In a slew of online publications like Slate, Artnet and Blouinartm, the art world is showing fear of the xenophobia, misogyny, and racism expected in a Trump presidency. How can artists make a difference in this political climate is the typical question. But this is a bad question. The job of the Artist isn’t to worry if they can change the world, but rather to call things as they see them and let the world decide if it matters. That job description is written in history. You saw it when Francisco Goya, painter for the Spanish royals, laced into what he called the “vulgar prejudices and frauds.” He did this so forcefully that the Inquisition denounced him, even despite his friends in high places.

No rest for the weary

One of Goya’s images, “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” created toward the end of the 18th century is a kind of pictorial admonition to artists in current days that there can be no rest for them in troubled times. Get to work, he appears to be telling them. Do your job. Honore Daumier showed he knew his task when he mocked French king Louis Philippe as a gargantuan for devouring his people, and was jailed for it.

Getting the job done

But you don’t need to dip into the distant past to find artists who stay awake and keep themselves from the “sleep of reason.” Max Beckmann’s “Birds Hell,” now on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is an excruciatingly graphic description of cruelty in the Third Reich.

As atrocities occur, a central figure is under attack from a monstrous eagle (a frequent Nazi symbol). Jack Levine also understood the artist’s job. After creating “Feast of Pure Reason,” a portrayal of the rich and powerful as fat cats running the world, he said in an exhibition catalog at the Whitney Museum of American Art: “I shall always have to repudiate certain contemporary concepts because I’ve got a job that has to be done.” Talk about contemporary concepts, Barbara Kruger inserted into her image of the American flag this message: “Look for the moment when pride becomes contempt.”

Nasty Women at work

Now comes the latest example of artists on the job in a show titled “ Nasty Women’ Art” at the Knockdown Center in Queens, which was mounted expressly in response to Trump’s victory.

The show title refers to the remark the Donald made about Hillary during one of their debates. Seven hundred works – drawings, paintings, collages, sculptures and video art -- all selling for no more than $100 to beckon those of modest means to buy art, So far, $35,000 worth of work has been sold and all of it will go to Planned Parenthood, which incoming Congressmen plan to defund.

Artist Roxanne Jackson, who organized the show, knows the job of an artist, too. “Art should not be underestimated,” she told Jillian Steinhauer, reporting for the artsw forum Hyperallergic. “Art, in itself, is protest.”