Why you can’t look away from that Trump fast food photo
It is not surprising that people found the photo visually arresting, said George Baker, a professor of art history at UCLA who specializes in modern and contemporary art. It observes the rule of thirds and has some aspects of the golden ratio, he said, but it’s more powerful in the way it evokes classical art.
“You think of all of the great images of feasts in the history of art,” Baker said. “Right away, the most famous images are religious — ‘The Last Supper’ with Christ. And you have this incredible gesture [he’s] making, but it’s not really a presentation of the bounty and the food. He’s holding his hands up in a Christ gesture that we associate more with the crucifixion.”
It’s a gesture, Baker said, that calls to mind executions and political protest paintings. “The Third of May 1808” by Francisco Goya and “The Execution of Emperor Maximilian” by Edouard Manet feature similar positions.
The subject matter is also evocative. Baker pointed to “The Land of Cockaigne” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. It depicts a feast taking place in “a medieval land of plenty, which is appropriate as an allegory” for the White House event, Baker said. In it, the food prepares itself: A goose lays down on a plate, an egg walks on two legs with a knife in its cracked shell, a pig carves a strip of bacon from its side.