By Terry Gipson | April 27, 2020

Long before getting involved in politics, I trained and worked as an artist in a variety of industries. It’s probably why I continue to view art and government through the same lens; both have the ability to achieve remarkable things. Apparently, Governor Cuomo agrees. During a recent interview on WAMC radio, he said this about government: “It always mattered to me and I always thought it was an art form and I always thought it had great potential to do great things…” So, if government truly is an art form, and I believe that it is, how might we critique and classify the artistic stylings of our current political leaders?


Let’s start with President Trump. He rebels against conventional wisdom and strives to mock all political precedent by presenting absurd and often shocking proposals. This is a textbook definition of Dadaism, which was exemplified by renowned artist Marcel Duchamp. He once entered a urinal in a New York art exhibit, titled it “Fountain,” and insisted that it was art. Trump must have been channeling Duchamp last week when he dangerously suggested injecting peoples’ lungs with disinfectants as a legitimate way to treat coronavirus.


Fountain, 1917 by Marcel Duchamp


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently made the horrifying proposal that states should file for bankruptcy in order to resolve their economic crises. He clearly prefers to approach problem solving in an altered state that conjures up nightmarish images from deep within his subconsciousness mind. He’s working in the Surrealist tradition that was exhibited by Salvador Dali when he painted his masterpiece, “Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War),” just six months before the Spanish Civil War began.


Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (premonition of Civil War), 1936 by Salvador Dali


Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, has had difficulty explaining his plan to reopen Georgia. That’s typical of an Abstract Expressionist who works with chaotic and spontaneous action to achieve unplanned results. The epitome of this art form is Jackson Pollock. The similarities between Pollock’s “Lucifer” and Governor Kemp’s “Reopening Plan” are striking.


Lucifer, 1947 by Jackson Pollock



Fortunately, Cubism has been the preference for many other governors as they confront the challenges of COVID-19. Governor Cuomo is leading the way in demonstrating this bold artistic style that was pioneered by Pablo Picasso. As shown in Picasso’s “The Aficionado (The Torero),” the interpretation of any subject, in this case a bullfighter, requires the artist to craft complex solutions from multiple viewpoints. Cubism is an all-consuming method of problem solving that requires a deep analysis of every possible element before finalizing a composition.


The Aficionado (The Torero), 1912 by Pablo Picasso


Cubists, like Picasso and many others, had front row seats to the social and political upheaval that led to World War I. They understood the world was changing at a rapid pace and that a new way of thinking was required if civilization was going to survive. They responded with innovations that shattered conventional wisdom and forced society to chart a new path forward by re-examining everything that had previously been taken for granted. This is exactly what all of our political leaders should be doing right now. Only the Cubists can set us free.


Woman with Guitar, 1913 by George Braque

Football Players, 1912-1913 by Albert Gleize

The Blue Bird, 1912-1913 by Jean Metzinger


Terry Gipson is a former New York State Senator and a Communications Professor at SUNY New Paltz and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. To learn more, visit