The leader of a country is often a tastemaker, possessing that rare kind of star-power we associate with charismatic kings of old. You’ve never seen Malcolm Turnbull take an interview in a plushy gilt-gold throne, have you now (though you don’t see people pushing each other over for his classic, middle-aged CIS guy style either)?
Unfortunately, Trump’s taste confuses beauty with beauty pageants. He is a toddler in a democratically-elected tiara, with enough money to commission a wildly out of proportion Versailles atop his eponymous tower. While the oversized Baroque statues and reproduction Renoir lend a thin glaze of legitimacy to his respect for craftsmanship, let’s just say that, in terms of painting, he likes portraits of himself.
Louis XIV reigned under the divine right of kings, fashioning himself as the Sun King. Trump was elected by the American people, and has a classical allegorical ceiling mural of Apollo pulling the sun across the sky in his living room. How are these political polar opposites sounding so glitteringly similar?
This gold and marble assault on the senses really peaks with Trump’s very own coat of arms, which he fought Scottish heraldic laws to create, and which are embroidered (in gold) on velvet cushions. GOLD. What used to be a respected symbol of absolute power in the eighteenth century has, in modern times, become linked more with excess and corruption.
Let’s play Louis XIV or Trump!
While King Louis XIV buoyed the emerging market of French-made luxury goods by kitting out his palaces in over-the-top rococo splendour, Trump is hardly an invested patron of the arts in America. In fact, the famous art deco reliefs of the Bonwit Teller store, which Trump had promised to the Met, were destroyed in the construction of Trump Towers. The lobby is in pink marble, which entirely wiped out a Carrara mountain peak.
And yet, the more that Trump is buffeted by the media’s disdain for his chintzy taste, the more the Trumplets will defend him. These days, a comment on his penchant for gold-leaf Corinthian capitals is more reflective of the media’s elitism than the President’s… We’re not the ones who shit on a golden toilet.
Will the White House become the Gold House? Stay tuned.