Melania Trump asked the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan, one of the world’s foremost cultural institutions, for “Landscape with Snow,” an 1888 Van Gogh masterpiece, as a loan for the First Family’s White House collection.
In a The Washington Post story that broke today, the response she received said everything about the prevailing sentiment within the Guggenheim’s hallowed halls.
Instead of a pastoral 19th-century image of a man walking his dog, the museum offered “America” by Maurizio Cattelan — a fully functioning, solid 18-karat gold toilet, used by museum visitors in a public restroom for the past year, representing the excessive wealth of America’s 1%, to which the Trump family belongs.
Guggenheim curator Nancy Spector replied to Mrs. Trump’s request with a letter of her own, making the toilet available to her family, “should the President and First Lady have any interest in installing it in the White House.”
She added that Mr. Cattelan,“would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan . . . It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care.”
The New York Post headline when the work was unveiled read, ““WE’RE NO. 1! (And No. 2)” — a clear reference to Trump’s “America First” rhetoric.
Cattelan said of the provocative piece, “one-percent art for the ninety-nine percent . . . Whatever you eat, a two-hundred-dollar lunch or a two-dollar hot dog, the results are the same, toilet-wise.”
Spector herself wrote on social media after Trump’s election, “This must be the first day of our revolution to take back our beloved country from hatred, racism and intolerance . . . Don’t mourn, organize.”
The message she and Cattelan sent to the Presidon’t and his wife provided the perfect occasion to artfully (if scatalogically) resist.