Cheers to Guggenheim Museum—for Offering a Gold Toilet in Response to Trump's Request for a Van Gogh Painting

February 12, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


After Trump became president, the White House sent a request to the prestigious and world-renowned Guggenheim Museum in New York City, asking to borrow a painting for the private living quarters of Donald and Melania Trump. The painting they wanted was a 1888 work by Vincent van Gogh, Landscape with Snow.

Nancy Spector, the Guggenheim’s artistic director, emailed back on September 15, saying the request could not be accommodated and offered another piece: an 18-karat solid gold toilet, titled America. The fully working toilet—which visitors could use—had been on exhibit at the Guggenheim for a year in a public bathroom. Spector wrote that the artist of the piece, Maurizio Cattelan, “would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan” and that “It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care.” Cattelan, well known in the art world for satirical and provocative works, has described the golden toilet as “1 percent art for the 99 percent.”

Spector’s email to the White House, which included a photograph of the toilet “for your reference,” ended by saying, “We are sorry not to be able to accommodate your original request, but remain hopeful that this special offer may be of interest.” On the day after Trump was elected, Spector wrote on Instagram: “This must be the first day of our revolution to take back our beloved country from hatred, racism, and intolerance. Don’t mourn, organize.” Back in August, near the end of the museum’s exhibit of Cattelan’s America, Spector wrote that Trump’s term has been “marked by scandal and defined by the deliberate rollback of countless civil liberties, in addition to climate-change denial that puts our planet in peril.” And in a piece on the museum’s website titled “Creativity Has No Borders: Art Against the Immigration Ban,” Spector wrote, “In Trump’s America, the sustained assault on basic human and civil rights—the travel ban being only one example—calls for a decisive and unflinching response from the art community.”


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