The 18-carat solid gold toilet created by artist Maurizio Cattelan is yet to be claimed by the White House
Happy home, happy life! That’s probably what Donald Trump was thinking when he asked officials at the White House to call up the Guggenheim and see if he could loan a Vincent Van Gogh painting.
Trump allegedly had his sights on “Landscape with Snow”, which was painted in 1888 and is believed to be the first work that Van Gogh created when he relocated to Arles. Sounds simple enough – lend a man who absolutely cannot be trusted with anything a 19th-century artwork from an artist whose work has sold for sums of between $66 million and $114 million US dollars. But Trump was shit out of luck and the painting wasn’t available. Instead, the Guggenheim’s chief curator, Nancy Spector, offered the POTUS a work from Maurizio Cattelan – an Italian artist celebrated for his satirical sculptures. The piece in question was an 18-carat solid gold toilet titled “America”. To Spector’s credit, it’s fully functioning and she likely saw it as an appropriate method for disposing of all the president’s bullshit.
On Thursday, to our delight, the email response from Spector was obtained by the Washington Post who reported that the chief curator had thanked the White House for its request, noting she was “pleased that they are interested in demonstrating support for the arts by showcasing treasures from the nation’s cultural institutions”, but that the answer was a no. To be fair, Spector did politely explain that the reason for refusal was because “Landscape with Snow” was prohibited from travelling except on the “rarest occasions” and that it was actually already preparing to head to the institution’s Bilbao site. However, to clarify that no actually meant never, Spector specified that once it was done in Spain, it would “need to remain on permanent view in our Thannhauser Galleries for the foreseeable future”. Sorrryyy :)
Created in 2016, Cattelan’s “America” is a comment on the country’s sickening obsession with wealth and was installed on the museum’s fifth floor for public use. In the email, Spector notes its parallels with Duchamp’s readymade urinal (“Fountain”, 1917), explaining, “The work beautifully channels the history of 20-century avant-garde art”. But alas, there has been no response from the White House. So while “America” might have been satisfactorily used by tens of thousands of visitors to the Guggenheim during its glory days, it appears it will be saved the honour (or is that horror?) of being used by Trump and his entourage.