Richard Prince Transforms Donald Trump’s Accusers Into Art to Fund Grassroots Voter Registration
It’s no secret that art star Richard Prince has a penchant for cryptic tweets. But the famous appropriation artist was up to something different recently when he tweeted a composite image of the 18 women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, plus Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who was paid $130,000 to stay quiet by Donald Trump’s personal attorney shortly before the 2016 election.
The tweet was in fact a preview of a new work titled 18 & Stormy. It is one of a number of artwork contributions that will be used to fund grassroots voter education and registration efforts ahead of this year’s midterm elections. The work, which will be available for sale at this year’s Frieze Art Fair, is part of a broader fundraising effort by the artist-led progressive political action committee Downtown for Democracy.
18 & Stormy will be available in multiple forms: as a poster in an edition of 400, priced at $100 each; as a signed and dated “DVD sticker poster” in a limited edition of 100, priced at $500 each; and as an inkjet print on canvas in an edition of two, with one artist’s proof. These are priced at $130,000 each, not coincidentally, the same amount paid to Stormy Daniels by Cohen.
“Rather than diminishing or conflating the very different experiences these 19 have lived… 18 & Stormy highlights a different connecting thread, and the clarity emerging from the fuzziness of the image is what each of these women implore: exposing the truth about their experiences with Donald Trump,” Downtown for Democracy said in a statement.
The work will debut on April 30 with an event at Karma Bookson New York City’s Lower East Side. It will gain an even larger audience next month, when it will be shown alongside other new artist editions created for the PAC at New York’s Frieze Art Fair (May 3–6). Other participating artists include Katherine Bernhardt, Mel Bochner, Jonathan Horowitz, Arlene Shechet and Cecily Brown. “As an artist there’s one straightforward way one can help—donate art,” Brown told artnet News.
Downtown for Democracy was initially founded in 2003 during the George W. Bush administration. But the country later experienced “eight years of progressive government,” noted Marilyn Minter, who is on the organization’s artist committee. “We just got lulled into complacency.” The PAC—which Minter describes as a “real loose 20-person group”—was revived in 2017 after a hiatus. “The Trump win was this wake up call to how fragile our democracy is,” Minter said. (Last year, she created a limited edition bronze plaque with its own reference to Donald Trump’s alleged misconduct to support the initiative.)
Knowing that he shared her concerns, Minter reached out to Prince to participate. “He’s one of the few artists who have really shown up,” she said. “He immediately said yes.”
According to a statement from Downtown For Democracy, 18 & Stormy draws on the history of composite photography, including the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, who first experimented with the process in the 1920s, as well as the work of anthropologist Francis Galton, who conducted composite photography experiments in the Victorian era. It is a more political version of Prince’s first experiment with the form, which he created in 2013: A composite image of the 57 girlfriends with whom Jerry Seinfeld appeared on screen during the run of Seinfeld.
Minter says she has been encouraged by the generosity of both artists and art-world influencers to the cause. Art fairs, she notes, have consistently given the organization free space to promote its wares. “We’re all volunteers and just sell products and raise as much money as we can,” she said. “People don’t want to feel powerless. If you do something, you feel so much better.”