White House asks for Van Gogh loan - but Guggenheim offers gold toilet insteadThe Guardian
January 26, 2018
The Guggenheim Museum has reportedly turned down a White House request to borrow a Van Gogh painting, and has instead offered the Trump administration the use of a golden toilet.
The White House had asked the Guggenheim, based in New York, to borrow Landscape With Snow, Van Gogh's 1888 work depicting a man and a dog walking through a field.
But the Guggenheim's chief curator, Nancy Spector, turned down the request, the Washington Post reported on Thursday. Instead she said the White House could loan an 18-carat toilet - an installation by artist Maurizio Cattelan.
The fully functioning toilet, titled America, was installed in the Guggenheim in September 2016. It was available for public use, and tens of thousands of people obliged. But with the exhibition over, Spector saw that the toilet could now potentially serve the president.
Spector's emailed reply to the White House's request to loan Landscape with Snow was obtained by the Post. The veracity of the email, which was sent on September 15, was confirmed to the newspaper by the Guggenheim. In reply to an inquiry from the Guardian, the museum said: "We have no further information to provide."
Spector wrote that America was available, "should the President and First Lady have any interest in installing it in the White House".
Cattelan "would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan", Spector said in the email. She added: "It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care."
The Guardian was among the first to use the solid gold toilet in September 2016.
"The surface proved forgiving on the rear of the thigh and once the procedure was complete, the flush worked like a charm. The golden toilet was able to handle solids," our reviewer declared.
At the time of America's installation, Cattelan told the Guggenheim that he had the idea for the toilet before Trump's political rise, but said "it was probably in the air". He said the golden toilet was in part a nod to Marcel Duchamp's 1917 artwork Fountain, which was a urinal.