Robert Corless, “Untitled” (1961), watercolor on paper, 12 x 13 inches (photo by Tim Keane, courtesy the estate of Robert Corless)

Thank you. Oh, what a crowd here, huge. Thank you. Did you hear the latest? The Lying Media! Again! They called us up on Air Force One. They said ‘Oh my God, Mr. President, we found a portrait of you! It’s a masterpiece! Do you have a comment?’ They have these art experts saying this is a 100% verified, this is a likeness of Donald J. Trump. This is me? Who is this Robert Corless? I asked Ivanka, you know she’s a work of art herself and she collects art, too, and she doesn’t know this Corless guy. It’s unbelievable, what they are getting away with. We’re going to put a stop to it, though. Dishonest people, these artists, and very unfair. First, it’s the Fake News, and then this phony Witch Hunt. They said look it’s you, the big hair, the small hands, the screwy expressions, the orange skin, look, sir, it’s you. I told, them, I had General Kelly handle the call, and said, we’ll see what happens, we’ll investigate this Fake Art, phony portrait. The NEA? No Democrat money for The Big Beautiful Wall but they want money for these artists?  I’m talking about terrible degenerates, these artists. We had them, once, all over the place, in New York. We got them out of there, like the squeegee men, too, thanks to our great police officers and we rounded them up, kicked them out. There was one guy making religious paintings with – I hate to say the word – shit. A disgrace. Unbelievable. We put a stop to it. Cleaned up the whole city. Kicked out the drug dealers and the rapists and got rid of these artists. Rudy Giuliani knows, he’s here tonight. Even before Mayor Rudy I was cleaning up New York, right Rudy? You know they called Rudy ‘Batman’ back then? Even the New York liberals like Chuck Schumer liked Rudy! They won’t admit it, but boy, oh boy behind closed doors they just loved Rudy. Voted him in, again and again, even the liberals! There he is, Rudy, say hi to Batman. Though they say on TV today, he’s more like Dracula. Scary guy, Rudy, full moon, watch out! But then the Fake Art, so dishonest. Look, I was friends with some of them, trust me. And let me tell you something, they are worse than the illegals, very bad. Very very few knew business. Except Andy. Andy Warhol. You know Warhol? He made those huge soup cans and made millions and millions. Tremendous! Just selling pictures of soup cans! He came to me for money, for advice, about doing deals. He told me, these liberals, even the Democrats, buying his fake art, such dupes. Sad. Andy was not as rich as me but he had money, threw a huge party for my friend Roy Cohn. Mad dog Roy, boy, I need a lawyer like him with this Witch Hunt. And in New York, I also had Andy. I hired him! Can you believe that? And he did these very terrible paintings of Trump Tower for me. Total disasters. Forget it. I didn’t pay him a cent. Now the Fake Media call me up saying, ‘This is a verified portrait of Donald J. Trump.’ I don’t even know this Robert Corless. Never met him. Andy, yes. He used to run around at Studio 54 saying, ‘Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump, I love you, I love you, you’re a superstar, you’re a superstar.’ I said, ‘Andy, really, why only fifteen minutes of me being famous? I am going to be more famous than anyone! And for a lot longer, trust me!’ You all knew I was right. Wasn’t I right? I think we agree I was right. Forget the Fake Media and the Fake Art. That portrait is not me, I promise you that.

Author’s note: The painter Robert Corless (1939-1979) was my uncle. He painted this unidentified fantastical figure, with its uncanny resemblance to Donald Trump, in 1961. A native of New York City, Corless’s work appeared in group exhibitions throughout the 1960s at such venues as Great Jones Gallery, DeAnelle Gallery, Kornblee Gallery, and The Wadsworth Atheneum. In 2001, a self-portrait was included in the Matthew Marks Gallery’s Tenth Anniversary Exhibition: 100 Drawings and Photographs. I have published a number of my prose poems paired with reproductions of his art in magazines like The Cultural Society, Sleepingfish, Onager Editions, and Still Point Arts Quarterly. If he were still with us, he would have deplored the current administration and all it stands for.

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Tim Keane

Tim Keane's writing on poetry and visual art has appeared in Modern Painters, The London Magazine, Utne Reader, The Brooklyn Rail, Vision China, and in Joe...

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Robert Corless

Robert Corless (1939-1979), a painter, was born in New York City. His work was exhibited in group shows at Great Jones Gallery, DeAnelle Gallery, Kornblee Gallery, The Wadsworth Atheneum, and Matthew Marks...