Trump’s Republican Club painting and what it means

Nick Hilton
6 min readOct 17, 2018
‘The Republican Club’ by Andy Thomas

You don’t need a degree in art history or even a half-decent eye to know that the painting, recently discovered to be hanging on a wall in the White House, is one hell of a piece of art.

The image shows Trump, centre-stage, at an imagined drinks table. He is surrounded on all sides by previous Republican presidents, some dead, some living, all laughing and sharing a drink. Trump’s immaculate white shirt makes him the focus of the painting, whilst others, like a good-humoured Gerald Ford or a happy-to-be-here HW Bush, recline in the background. Others look on with a hint of envy at the proceedings at the table.

The artist, Andy Thomas, is based in Carthage, Missouri, and his painting found its way into the White House courtesy of a California congressmen, Darrell Issa. Thomas’s work focuses on the American Civil War and the history of the Presidency, and the painting that now hangs in Trump’s White House — ‘The Republican Club’ — is part of a series that includes ‘The Democratic Club’, as well as twin paintings depicting the Republican and Democrat presidents playing pool, and a further pair at the poker table.

‘The Democratic Club’ by Andy Thomas

Whilst all of Thomas’s work is undeniably and intentionally kitsch, the clubhouse series represents a high watermark in terms of his use of impressionism and abstraction. The backgrounds, particularly, seem intended to evoke Belle Époque French impressionist paintings, with the high ceilings, round arches, and twinkling lights. It looks more Moulin Rouge than Mar-a-Lago.

The Moulin Rouge, as caputred by Toulouse-Lautrec, and Manet’s bar

But the clubhouse (or the idea of the clubhouse) is an American classic, as are pool and poker. There are few painting traditions that America can stake a more compelling claim to than kitsch, the basis of Americana from pop art like Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Drowning Girl’, via modernist takes…

Nick Hilton

Writer. Media entrepreneur. London. Interested in technology and the media. Co-founder Email: