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The Patron Saint of Superheroes

Chris Gavaler Explores the Multiverse of Comics, Pop Culture, and Politics

In honor of the mid-term elections this week: here’s a three-figure blurgit of Donald Trump descending that damn escalator in the Trump Tower lobby way back whenever that was he announced his candidacy:

I almost named it “Descent” or “American Descent,” meaning into hell, but I prefer the reference to Duchamp. Of course, Trump is not–thank god–literally nude–he just always embodies a kind of brutal, ugly nakedness for me. The image is so distorted it’s almost opaquely abstract–which seems fitting too. It’s actually a digital photocollage incorporating these three video stills:

Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2” is based on a photo sequence too, one from Eadweard Muybridge’s 1887 Animal Locomotion:

Image result for muybridge woman staircase

Duchamp’s image is an art classic, but President Theodore Roosevelt hated it as an example of the “lunatic fringe” in early 20th century art:

“Take the picture which for some reason is called “A Naked Man Going Down Stairs.” There is in my bathroom a really good Navajo rug which, on any proper interpretation of the Cubist theory, is a far more satisfactory and decorative picture. Now, if, for some inscrutable reason, it suited somebody to call this rug a picture of, say, “A Well-Dressed Man Going Up a Ladder,” the name would fit the facts just about as well as in the case of the Cubist picture of the “Naked Man Going Down Stairs.” From the standpoint of terminology each name would have whatever merit inheres in a rather cheap straining after effect; and from the standpoint of decorative value, of sincerity, and of artistic merit, the Navajo rug is infinitely ahead of the picture.”

Image result for duchamp nude descending

Roosevelt, like Trump, wasn’t a stickler for fact-checking little details like the actual name of Duchamp’s painting, but in Roosevelt’s defense, I doubt Donald Trump has any awareness of let alone opinions about early 21st century art, lunatic or otherwise. In my defense, I’ve been increasingly obsessed with Muybridge and recently created this Duchamp-esque variation:

As well as this male nude counterpoint, which I now find myself calling “A Well-Dressed Man Going Up a Ladder”:

But when it comes to Trump, I always picture him descending:

Descending and, if this isn’t a jinx on the mid-terms and the next two years, fading away. Here he is descending from that horrific Access Hollywood bus:

But I think a far more satisfactory and decorative descent will be from Air Force One, as Trump vanishes into a lunatic fringe chapter in American history books, becoming just a cheap straining after effect:



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