After months of anticipation Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s “America” installation has opened at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City (September 16, 2016). The subject of the work that has created worldwide interest – and long, winding queues – is an 18-carat solid gold replica of the museum’s existing Kohler toilets.
This is no ordinary exhibit set on a pedestal or placed behind a glass screen, this is a fully working toilet that the artist invites members of the public to use. In fact he welcomes it, saying “It will be a test of the piece”.
Housed in the museum’s relatively small, unassuming bathroom on the fifth floor, long queues have formed each day, with excited visitors eagerly anticipating the opportunity to spend time alone with a work of art of unquestionable value, by a leading contemporary artist.
The Guggenheim museum has stationed a security guard outside the bathroom while staff will clean the toilet every 15 minutes.
Cattelan describes the work as “100 per cent art for the 99 per cent”. He says the golden Kohler replica toilet is in part a nod to Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 artwork, Fountain, a urinal submitted for the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in New York in 1917. Duchamp was suggesting that an everyday item could be considered art if an artist presented it as such. The work was ultimately rejected.
Unlike Duchamp’s installation, the solid gold replica Kohler toilet is receiving unprecedented praise and admiration. It is to be on permanent exhibition for the foreseeable future.
Read more about this exhibit here: