It’s a sculpture titled “America.”
Being the president of the United State offers a lot of perks — a button that summons Diet Cokes, for example. But want to hang some post-impressionist artwork from the Guggenheim in the White House living quarters? Well, not so fast.
The Washington Post’s Paul Schwartzman reports that the first family asked the Guggenheim Museum to loan an 1888 Vincent Van Gogh, “Landscape with Snow,” to install in the White House. The museum’s curator declined the request but came back with a counteroffer: How about a solid gold toilet?
— Guggenheim Museum (@Guggenheim) September 15, 2016
Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan created the piece, titled “America.” The artwork — which also happens to be a fully functional, flushing toilet — opened for public use in a fifth-floor restroom at the Guggenheim in September 2016.
Cattelan began contemplating the idea for “America” before Trump became a serious candidate for president, according to the New York Times, but the participatory sculpture pretty much screams Trump, given his affinity for gold plate, including in bathroom fixtures. The piece — which was cleaned every 15 minutes when it sat in the Guggenheim — had a democratic appeal, Cattelan told the New Yorker last year. “Whatever you eat, a two-hundred-dollar lunch or a two-dollar hot dog, the results are the same, toilet-wise,” he said.
A curator for the Guggenheim, Nancy Spector, told the White House’s Office of the Curator that the Van Gogh was en route to an exhibition in Spain, according to the Post.