The new version replaces one vandalized in July

By Virginia Chamlee
September 17, 2020 02:46 PM
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Melania Trump (left) and a bronze replica depicting the first lady in Slovenia
| Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images; Ales Beno/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Slovenian town home to a chainsaw-carved depiction of Melania Trump that one local likened to Smurfette is now home to a second, less destructible statue of the first lady — the replacement coming just months after the original was burned by vandals.

The first statue, made of wood and unveiled in July 2019, depicted Trump, 50, wearing a powder-blue dress (similar in color to the Ralph Lauren Collection piece she wore at President Donald Trump's 2017 inauguration) with her hand held above her head in a wave.

The similarities ended there, however. The statue's more abstract blocky stature and wooden face lent themselves to critics' countless memes and jokes, many comparing the artwork to other sculptures that haven't quite hit the mark with the public.

A year after its unveiling near the first lady's hometown of Sevnica, vandals reportedly burned the initial wooden statue of her, leading the American who commissioned the piece to question "why they did it," in an interview with Reuters.

Brad Downey, who hired local folk artist Ales Zupevc to create both the new and original sculptures of Mrs. Trump, told Reuters he had filed a police report but hoped to interview the vandals for a documentary film he was creating.

First Lady Melania Trump
| Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Downey also exhibited the statue's burned remains at a gallery in Slovenia, telling reporters it "represents a visual representation of political tensions that are erupting" in the country.

On Tuesday, he reportedly unveiled a new and, he believes, improved take on the artwork — in the sense that it is less likely to be vandalized by arson, as it is cast in bronze.

In an interview with the The New York Times, Downey cited recent American protests as his reasoning behind the sculpture, which looks virtually identical to the previous version but without the powder-blue color.

“With the Black Lives Matter protests, there’s been a tendency to rip down monuments, so I wanted to install a permanent one,” Downey said.

If the new Melania Trump statue is vandalized, a symbol of its memory, at least, will likely remain.

As the Times notes, a plaque on the new sculpture — which sits on the same tree trunk as the original — dedicates it to “the eternal memory of a monument to Melania which stood at this location.”