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Pro-Trump Trolls Are Coordinating a Vicious Smear Campaign Against Obama’s Portrait Artist

As a response to the phenomenon of former President Barack Obama’s central portrait, pro-Trump trolls launched a allegation campaign against artist Kehinde Wiley, claiming a portrayal of his symbolizes an attack against white people and that the artist “seems racist.”

On Twitter and online summary play like the “politically correct” threads on 4chan, 8chan, and The_Donald subreddit on Reddit, pro-Trump trolls are smearing Wiley by claiming his rendition of Judith beheading Holofernes, a complicated turn on a exemplary theme including works by Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Rubens, and others, is “a ‘queen’ slicing off the conduct of a immature white child.” Commenters on the summary play and Twitter have pronounced Wiley “seems racist” and accused the artist of being “the definition of racism.”

Judith Beheading Holoefernes / Caravaggio


Judith with the conduct of Holofernes / Peter Paul Rubens


Judith and Holofernes / Kehinde Wiley

Wiley’s portrayal was partial of a series of portraits of women he entitled An Economy of Grace. The artist is known for remixing “classical European art with black civic youth.” As Upworthy’s Parker Molloy documented, the staining seems “clearly flattering coordinated” and the manufactured outrage echoes other stunts pro-Trump trolls have pulled to hoard mainstream media courtesy and figure narratives, like suing over all-women screenings of Wonder Woman, or disrupting a Shakespeare play over its depiction of the murder of Julius Caesar.


Cristina López G. is a comparison researcher at Media Matters with a concentration in Hispanic media and Latino representation. 

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