Jonah Kinigstein certainly embodies the single virtue that Donald Trump apparently values above all others: stamina. Not to mention indignation, which Kinigstein also has in spades. At age 94, Kinigstein isn’t slowing down. Given that the artist specializes in producing cartoons that excoriate public figures that he considers dangerous, stupid, and repugnant, it is not surprising that he was recently inspired by the current presidential election to unleash his full wrath upon the Republican candidate — Donald Trump.
Kinigstein works in the scorched earth tradition of such 18th and 19th century cartoonists as James Gillray, George Cruikshank, and Joseph Keppler, and embraces their somewhat rococo pen and ink technique as well as their penchant to exaggerate the grotesque (but not, in this instance by much). He does so with brio and passion equal to theirs, and if his images will not sway those still straddling the fence, those implausible undecided voters, they may give solace to the frustrated and deliver some much need humor to the agog.
A collection of Kinigstein’s cartoons savaging modern art and its enablers was published in 2014 (The Emperor’s New Clothes) and a new collection will appear from FU Press in 2018. A short interview about Kinigstein's Trump cartoons follows.- Gary Groth
By way of prelude, by my estimation, you have been of voting age in at least 19 United States presidential elections. Have you ever experienced anything like this one? Does any public political event come close?
Of all of the Presidential elections, I have voted in, this guy, Donald Trump, is the personification of EVIL. He's a racist, Fascist, Nazi. redneck, liar, libertine, and a bully. It appears that he believes you can fool ALL of the People ALL of the time. This Joe Six Pack believes in the idea that if you say something LONG ENOUGH and LOUD ENOUGH it becomes true. He shoots from the hip thinking every male has the same predatory libido that he has. He wants to get rid of Mexican rapists and thieves when he himself is the worst rapist and thief of them all. When he is accused by his victims he shirks it off as though he is incapable of doing or saying these things.
His slogan of "Make America Great Again" is pure garbage. America is as GREAT as it will ever be right NOW! Perhaps he wants to return to a time when African Americans sang, "I got plenty of nothin' and nothin' is plenty for me."
This lowlife thinks he can stoop to the lowest form of transgressions and wants you to believe everyone really wants to be just like him. He is the most unethical animal that has ever run for President. I can't recall any public political event that has come close to this, except perhaps when Hitler was running.
WE'VE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS ASSHOLE!!
Pundits have been writing endlessly about Trump for a year now. Tell me what you find so uniquely odious about him?
This guy has the impression that below the surface everyone has the same ugly desires as he has and that he is the only one who acts on them. He wants everyone to join him.
Can you describe your own politics? Have they evolved over the last 75 years? Did you vote for FDR?
I voted for FDR and since then no one has been able to replace him. I was disappointed when Adlai Stevenson lost the election to Eisenhower; he could have been a great president.
As far as I know, you had no plan to release these cartoons publicly. Did you draw these cartoons for yourself? What motivated you to express all this in isolation, as it were? Was it just an inner compulsion? Were you trying to purge your anger?
I made these cartoons for myself, family and a few friends. I sent some to Hillary's campaign headquarters in Brooklyn. I was very angry that this ass won the primaries. I asked myself what has happened to this country, especially after electing Obama twice. I was a very proud American then.
These drawings are looser and rougher —less refined— than your earlier cartoons about modernist artists (The Emperor’s New Clothes). It’s almost as if you were drawing faster than usual because you couldn't wait to get to the next one. As someone who knows you, you don't appear manic, but there’s something manic about these images. Am I mistaken?
Yes, that is true. These drawings are less refined and more direct. The drawings were made with no previous draft, they were done once on paper. It's true I couldn't get to the next one fast enough. I didn't want an elegance that finds itself when copied with a pencil drawing underneath.
What’s with the pitchfork-in-the-head motif?
The pitchfork in the hair refers to his bale-of-hay hair when Rosie O'Donnell aped him on TV a awhile ago.