According to its website, New York City’s Guggenheim Museum “collects, preserves, and interprets modern and contemporary art, and explores ideas across cultures through dynamic curatorial and educational initiatives and collaborations.”.

Therefore, when given the opportunity to send a Vincent Van Gogh piece to display at the White House, so First Lady Melania Trump could demonstrate American support for classic art, the representatives at the Guggenheim behaved in the professional and exemplary manner that you would expect from the New York City art world:

The emailed response from the Guggenheim’s chief curator to the White House was polite but firm: The museum could not accommodate a request to borrow a painting by Vincent van Gogh for President and Melania Trump’s private living quarters.

Instead, wrote the curator, Nancy Spector, another piece was available, one that was nothing like “Landscape With Snow,” the 1888 van Gogh rendering of a man in a black hat walking along a path in Arles, France, with his dog.

The curator’s alternative: an 18-karat, fully functioning, solid gold toilet — an interactive work titled “America” that critics have described as pointed satire aimed at the excess of wealth in this country.

The toilet is a pointed statement on American wealth.

The 18-karat solid gold toilet was created by artist Maurizio Cattelan and is meant to represent America’s wealth and excess. It spent a year on the 5th floor of the Guggenheim installed for museum visitors to use. The toilet is estimated to have cost close to $1 million to create.

When asked why he was offering his work to the President, Cattelan responded “What’s the point of our life? Everything seems absurd until we die and then it makes sense.”

Presidents and their First Ladies routinely request the loan of special pieces of art to enhance their temporary home and to add to American prestige, which can be critical in international relations.

The immature, snark-filled response that belittles wealth creation was a slap in the face not only to the Trumps but to the millions of Americans who support them.

An art critic explains how the rejection was a work-of-art in itself:

So the artwork here is not by Cattelan, who is merely instrumental in this game. Rather it is the work of Guggenheim curator Nancy Spector, who made the offer to the White House. Curators may be talented and creative, but they are not often in the business of making art itself. But now the Guggenheim owns a new work, a Spector original, which will add if not luster at least levity to the museum’s collection. And perhaps, like all political art, a little bit of risk, too. The president is not known to suffer sick burns with a light sense of self-deprecation.

This explains that why I feel art died after the Pre-Raphaelite era.

Outside of the “elite zone” occupied by precious Guggenheim curators, many Americans are upset and plan to send their own message to the museum.

I wonder how inclined tourists from the rest of the United States who voted for the President would be to visit the Guggenheim at this point? Frankly, it isn’t my cup of tea, but I suspect that by insulting the Trumps so “cleverly,” the museum has lost many potential customers.

If I were a curator of an art museum in a Trump-supporting region, I would publicly offer our First Lady a choice of masterpieces from its collection. I would also feature that the museum was truly tolerant and supportive of all aspects of American culture.


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