Gold ‘America’ Toilet By Maurizio Cattelan in the White House?
In September 2017, President Trump made a request to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for the loan of Vincent van Gogh’s Landscape with Snow. The work would be displayed in the White House.
The museum’s chief curator Nancy Spector denied the request via email. She went one step further and offered the president an alternative work: a golden toilet by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, titled America.
Loaning of Works to the President
The president’s request is certainly not unprecedented. In the past, famed artworks from museums nationwide have been put on display in the White House. Most recently, former President Obama was loaned works by modernists Jasper Johns and Mark Rothko. JFK decorated the White House with works by Eugene Delacroix.
What Trump Requested
The 1888 van Gogh winter landscape requested by President Trump shows a figure walking a dog in a snow-dotted field. The president had hoped to display it in the Oval Office. No reason tied to conservation was given for the denial.
Chief Curator Spector, according to the Washington Post, wrote that the sculpture is being offered for a long-term loan. “It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile,” she wrote. “But we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care.”
Cattelan has said that America is “1% art for the 99%.” The work first went on display in the Guggenheim in September 2016 and was on view for a year. It is currently in storage.
No confirmation yet if the president will take the Guggenheim up on its offer. With a president known for his audacity, he just might turn what most are hailing as high insult into something much more interesting if he does, indeed, decide to display a gold-plated toilet in the Oval Office.