Yesterday, August 18th, oft-forgotten 25-year-old presidential scion Tiffany Trump unveiled a new portrait of herself. Trump had served as inspiration for a piece by Colombian artist Mr. Bling, born Mauricio Benitez, who renders celebrity subjects in Swarovski crystals–his first big break came in 2013, after creating a portrait of soccer star Lionel Messi worth a reported $50 million. Recent works include the likenesses of Madonna , J. Lo (which he gifted to the star for her recent 50th birthday), Rihanna, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and many, many iterations of the Kardashians.
While Trump posed with a certificate of authenticity, neither she nor Mr. Bling have clarified the reasons for the work’s genesis. She also posed with the artist on Instagram, thanking him for “including me in one of your incredible pieces of art.” He posted another photo, directing its caption at Trump. “Its a pleasure meeting you and that important and special persons, as you have my art @tiffanytrump. Welcome to the shinny world [diamond emojis].”
The portrait features Trump in a leather motorcycle jacket, hair tossed casually across her face. Her pose has the air of a mid-aughts album cover, a whiff of Hillary Duff. Her sequined hair tangles like spaghetti.
On Sunday, the same day that Tiffany shared her crystal art, President Trump shooed away widespread concerns about a looming recession. “I don’t think we’re having a recession,” he told reporters. “We’re doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut and they’re loaded up with money.”
“I don’t see a recession,” he continued. “I mean, the world is in a recession right now. Although, that’s too big a statement.”
Tiffany, the product of Donald Trump’s second marriage to Marla Maples, has mostly been cast as the president’s ignored child, the one he sees rarely and fails to include in speeches. She grew up on the West Coast, far away from the gilded Trump Tower, and is, for better or worse, far less high-profile than her older siblings. The fact that her portrait is rendered in Swarovski crystals makes a cruel kind of sense. Maybe Ivanka would get diamonds.
In her seminal work Shine: Visual Economy of Light in African Diasporic Aesthetic Practice, scholar Krista Thompson explored the use of light in the art practices and depictions of Black people, including sequins. This framing doesn't exactly apply to Tiffany, beneficiary of a white supremacist administration. But Thompson writes about the function of glitter and glint, light illuminating "the state of being unseen, or of making the un-visible's disappearance seen." The piece does gleam.