Last fall, the White House apparently reached out to the Guggenheim to request the loan of a specific Van Gogh painting for the President’s residence. A curator replied that it would be impossible; perhaps they would accept an 18-karat gold used toilet, instead?
The Washington Post has reported that the White House wanted Van Gogh’s 1888 work “Landscape with Snow.” But according to an email the paper obtained, curator Nancy Spector replied—politely!—that the painting could only travel rarely, and offered instead the controversial interactive piece entitled “America.”
For a year, the Guggenheim had exhibited “America” — the creation of contemporary artist Maurizio Cattelan — in a public restroom on the museum’s fifth floor for visitors to use.
But the exhibit was over and the toilet was available “should the President and First Lady have any interest in installing it in the White House,” Spector wrote in an email obtained by the Washington Post.
The artist “would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan,” wrote Spector, who has been critical of Trump. “It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care.”
The Washington Post explained that, “It is common for presidents and first ladies to borrow major works of art to decorate the Oval Office, the first family’s residence and various rooms at the White House.” It’s not clear why the White House reached out to the Guggenheim when they could likely get anything they wanted from the Smithsonian’s options in storage; probably because the Trump administration is a clown show.