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Solid gold toilet good to go at the Guggenheim

Written by
Howard Halle

Back in April we noted plans for installing a working toilet made of 18-karat solid gold in one of the rest rooms at the Guggenheim. The handiwork of Italian bad-boy artist Maurizio Cattelan, it could be described as a plutocratic twist on Duchamp’s urinal. A planned springtime debut failed to materialize due to fabrication difficulties, but they must have ironed out the kinks because America, as it is cheekily titled, goes on view at the Gugg tomorrow. The toilet will be available for use by the public, promising “unprecedented intimacy with an artwork,” as the museum puts it. Indeed.

A guard will be posted outside to answer questions from people going potty, and naturally, it will have to be kept clean. To that end, the museum’s conservators have formulated a sanitizing regimen using a combination of steam and special wipes.

This is Cattelan’s first piece since his 2011-12 Guggenheim retrospective, which was followed by a period of self-imposed “exile” from the art-world. America will be an ongoing installation, and while it could be described as a cynical PR collaboration between artist and institution (and will no doubt spur an uptick in visitors), the work is as good a metaphor as any for a country on the brink of possibly electing Donald Trump as its next President. Knowing his love for bling, he may insist on moving America to the White House. 

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