Guggenheim declines White House loan request, but offers gold toilet instead

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

(Source: washington post)

After receiving a request from the White House curatorial department requesting the loan of a painting by Van Gogh to decorate the private rooms of Melania and Donald Trump, the chief curator of the Guggenheim, Nancy Spector, found herself in the position to refuse the request. . In a September 15, 2017 email just published by the Washington Post, she explains that “Snowy Landscape” (1888) was unavailable, as it would soon be on display at the Guggenheim Bilbao. “Fortuitously”, Spector writes, that same day a “wonderful work” by the Italian Maurizio Cattelan (b. 1960) came out of exhibition, which the artist would like to offer on loan to the White House: the work “América”, a fully equipped toilet. functional, forged in 18k gold, which was on display (and in use) in the fifth floor bathroom of the New York museum for a year. “The work beautifully channels the history of the artistic vanguards of the 20th century by referencing Marcel Duchamp's famous 1917 chamber pot”, the curator explains, adding that the piece is extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but that the Guggenheim would make the instructions available. for its assembly and maintenance.

When asked the reason for his offer to the president and his family, Cattelan (known in art circles for his provocative works and for his evasive comments when asked about the meaning of his work) simply said: “What is the meaning of our life? Everything seems absurd until we die, when everything makes sense.” Nancy Spector, who has openly opposed the president since his election, did not comment on her correspondence with the White House, but the authenticity of the email published by the Post was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the Guggenheim museum.

Maurizio Catellan, “America”, 2016, view of the installation at the Guggenheim museum, New York. Courtesy Guggenheim Museum. © Maurizio Catellan
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