Last Friday, the One Grand Gallery in Portland, Oregon, opened an exhibition titled “Fuck You Mr. President,” which it described as a “group show featuring dozens of artists from around the country.” One work, displayed in the window of the gallery, was a poster depicting President Trump with his hair being pulled back, a knife pressed to his throat, and blood gushing out onto his suit, in what appeared to be a beheading. In the bottom right corner of the work, letters in block text read: “Fuck Trump.” Once the gallery shared images of the piece on social media, the commentariat immediately seized upon the galling and even alerted the Secret Service. When a picture of the poster was put on the gallery’s Facebook page, the caption claimed that the online responses to the work had also turned violent. “The same people offended over a ‘death threat’ are the same people upholding death threats & violence,” the post read. “Irony.”
The gallery’s Facebook page has since been taken down, but the comments that remain on the gallery’s Instagram page do threaten to harm the gallery’s principals. Comments that had not yet been reported and removed as of this writing included one comment that read: “Maybe someone will chain the doors and burn the place to the ground with the artists and gallery owner in it that would be spectacular”; and another that reads: “Fuck you. Hopefully, somebody will burn your gallery down. It would be a public service.” A note on the gallery’s Yelp page notes that administrators are in the process of deleting threatening comments, explaining: “This business recently made waves in the news, which often means that people come to this page to post their views on the news.” On Tuesday afternoon, a correspondent for the local Fox affiliate reported that the gallery’s proprietor had taken down the work due to the fact that, as the owner put it, “People want the gallery to go up in flames with my family.”
It is not the first time that the art world has incited threats from Trump supporters. When the photographer Tyler Shields took a photo of Kathy Griffin holding what appeared to be President Trump’s decapitated head, Donald Trump, Jr., called it “disgusting” and Griffin was forced to make a formal apology. When Nancy Spector, chief curator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, turned down a request for a loan of a van Gogh painting by offering Maurizio Cattelan’s infamous golden toilet instead, talking heads at Fox News demanded that she resign.