Artist Sues The Smithsonian For Refusing To Display His 16-Foot Trump Painting2 min read

Image via Evan El-Amin /

A MAGA artist has decided to appeal his lawsuit against the Smithsonian Institution, in addition to National Portrait Gallery director Kim Sajet, after the US District Court in DC threw out the case for his painting to be displayed at the institution.

Portraitist Julian Raven’s 16-foot artwork titled Unafraid and Unashamed—which depicts a giant Trump head with a falling American flag being rescued by a bald eagle in space—is so extraordinarily patriotic, it served as the backdrop for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February, and incited attendees to flock over for selfies.

Despite the popularity of the painting, its artist has grappled with convincing the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery to display Unafraid and Unashamed.

According to court documents, Raven first requested for the artwork to be put up at the Rockwell Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian, following Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017. When that didn’t work out, he turned to the National Portrait Gallery, confident that it deserved a spot alongside portraits of the nation’s other presidents.

To his dismay, the gallery’s director, Kim Sajet, commented that it was “too political” and “too big.”

“The last thing she said to me was ‘It’s no good,’” he recalled.

He also told The Daily Beast, “It’s a painting of Trump. It’s gotta be yuge!”

After being declined, Raven filed a suit against the Smithsonian, alleging that it had breached his First Amendment rights and Fifth Amendment right to due process.

He also claimed that the art world was very much ruled by “very strong political ideologies on the left.” As a result of this supposed bias, Raven, a self-declared “starving artist,” said his livelihood has taken a beating—he apparently sold only one artwork in 2018.

“My art sales just took a nosedive,” he said.

Judge Trevor N. McFadden’s 20-page ruling couldn’t have helped his career. It concluded, “Mr Raven’s constitutional claims fail as a matter of law.”

With DC’s US District Court rejecting his complaint over the supposed prejudice of the Smithsonian, Raven plans to escalate the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

[via The Daily Beast and Artnet News, images via various sources]