Perhaps you missed it in the morass of controversy and nonsense that is contemporary American politics, but it was revealed this week that, bizarrely, Donald Trump's golf resorts often display a faked TIME cover with his face Photoshopped onto the cover. That level of outright hubris is pretty benign (and utterly hysterical) in a businessman, but when it's part of the public image of a political leader, it becomes a bit more intriguing. The mocked-up TIME forgery, and the continued decision to display it after Trump's election, form part of a long tradition of leaders throughout history who've manipulated artistic portrayals to help with their image propaganda - sometimes to truly unbelievable extremes.
Art has always been a major part of the arsenal of propaganda leaders have used to maintain their symbolic status. It's no mistake that Percy Bysshe Shelley's famous poem about the fragilities of power, "Ozymandias", is based around a gigantic, grotesque king's statue fallen in the sand: kings, emperors and pharaohs have always been well aware that imagery of their leadership isn't just about maintaining their hold over the populace, it's also about preserving their legacy for history. (It's a modern trend that persists beyond Trump, too. The New Yorker, publishing a 2009 series of portraits of world leaders, mentioned that then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly asked the photographer to "make me look good".)