The Guggenheim Just Brutally Trolled the Sh*t out of Donald Trump
The Guggenheim Museum in New York City showed President Trump the difference between a masterpiece and the sort of gold-plated and gaudiness Trump fancies in his decor.
The Guggenheim Museum’s Troll-fu is strong
President Trump and first lady Melania had requested a loan of the Van Gogh painting from the museum. The Trumps wished to hang the painting, Landscape in the Snow, in the residence at the White House. Museum curator Nancy Spector responded by email to White House curator Donna Hayashi Smith. The museum would not be able to honor the request. The painting was scheduled to be on display at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain.
“We are sorry not to be able to accommodate your original request, but remain hopeful that this special offer may be of interest.”
But she did not stop there.
“Fortuitously, a marvelous work by the celebrated contemporary artist, Maurizio Catellan, is coming off view today after a years installation at the Guggenheim, and he would like to offer it to the White House for a long term loan.”
What was this “work of art?”
The piece titled “America” is a 18k gold toilet. It had been installed in a public restroom at the Guggenheim to mock America’s fixation with the accumulation of wealth.
— Guggenheim Museum (@Guggenheim) September 15, 2016
Spector could have clicked “send” on the email at that point and still won the day, but she pushed on.
“The work beautifully channels the history of 20th-century avant-garde art by referencing Marcel Duchamp’s famous urinal of 1917.”
The email, which can be read in its entirety here, even includes and offer of installation instructions and care.
The email exchange calls to mind an interview actor George Clooney gave to the Daily Beast last September. In the interview, Clooney had this to say of President Trump:
“Here’s the thing: I grew up in Kentucky. I sold insurance door-to-door. I sold ladies’ shoes. And I worked at an all-night liquor store. I would buy suits that were too big and too long and cut the bottom of the pants off to make ties so I’d have a tie to go on job interviews. I grew up understanding what it was like to not have health insurance for eight years. So this idea that I’m somehow the ‘Hollywood elite’ and this guy who takes a shit in a gold toilet is somehow the man of the people is laughable.”
Related: Clooney to Trump: ‘F*ck You’ – You Can’t Be a ‘Man of the People’ if You ‘Sh*t in a Gold Toilet’
Another cultural reference now also attends the work: in a word, Trump. The aesthetics of this “throne” recall nothing so much as the gilded excess of Trump’s real-estate ventures and private residences. While Cattelan agrees that he could hardly have known about the rise of Trump when he conceived of the piece, he said that, “it was probably in the air.” He added, that the Trump connection is, “another layer, but it shouldn’t be the only one.
According to the Washington Post, the artist has a fairly utilitarian opinion of the work. This despite the million of dollars in gold it is made of. He described the toilet as “one-percent art for the ninety-nine percent,” adding that
“whatever you eat, a two-hundred-dollar lunch or a two-dollar hot dog, the results are the same, toilet-wise.”
Spector has not been shy about her opinion of President Trump. She started with the Instagram post seen below the day after Trump’s election. She also specifically mentioned Trump and the golden toilet on the Guggenheim’s blog last August.
No word from the President or the White House on whether they will accept the offer. Fox News already weighed in criticizing the Guggenheim for insulting the Trump family. And some Fox News viewers like this are calling for the elimination of federal funding.
— Wildbill (@BillWrh1970) January 26, 2018
Except President Trump’s proposed budget already called for zeroing-out the entire budgets for National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. And that was last March. At this point, what do the museums and their curators have to lose by fighting back hard?
Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images