You can even add some gold liquid of your own to the exhibit.
Features and List Co-Editor
If I had to guess I would say that you, the reader, are probably not a big fan of The Donald. Yet, despite your totally rational opinion of our current President, on some deep subconscious level. I’m sure you also at one point wondered what it would be like to live in a golden tower. Well, you can now live out your fantasy at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
The artist Maurizio Cattelan has installed a solid gold toilet in the fifth floor bathroom of the museum. Titled America, the piece is described as a “fully functional replica cast in 18-karat gold.” But perhaps the best part of this installation is that everyday visitors are allowed and encouraged to use the toilet in any way they see fit. Visitors are allowed a maximum of 15 minutes in the bathroom and can go in alone or with others and whatever happens in the bathroom stays in the bathroom. While a guard is always on duty outside the bathroom, no one watches what you do or how you interact with the piece. Simply put, for those 15 minutes, a toilet worth millions is yours and yours alone. Many visitors scoff at the sign, thinking the artwork is a waste of time, but then these same people try to peek inside the bathroom when the door is open. However, the toilet is tucked away inside the space, so the only way to truly see it is to wait in line and have your alone time with the artwork.
The artist came out of retirement to specifically make this piece and this piece alone, but has remained silent on its significance. There seems to be a large divide. Many take an optimistic approach and see this work as a symbol of the American dream. As the toilet is accessible to anyone, so is the ability to succeed and truly make it in this country. Others find it an example of the extreme excess of the art world and the rich in general. As the artwork is titled America, the country is depicted as a land of excess, where the rich feel the need to own gold toilets instead of putting their money to better uses. Still, a third interpretation finds the work to be one of unification. No matter if you are using a solid gold toilet or a hole in the ground, all of humanity shares the need to use the bathroom. The artist may have intended for all of these interpretations to be the meaning, or something else entirely, but who knew a toilet could cause so much discussion and debate.
The other works on display at the Guggenheim are equally worth viewing as well. The show Tales of Our Time highlights the work of Chinese artists across various mediums including photography, film, and even a giant machine.
The new show in the famous rotunda space, called Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim, includes works from the permanent collection divided into six sections based on the six founding collectors of the museum. Masterpieces by Kokoschka, Picasso, Mondrian, and Calder are all on display as part of this show.
If you do go to the Guggenheim, I highly recommend taking the time to visit the fifth floor bathroom to use or at least view America as it is truly a unique experience unlike anything any of us are likely to get another opportunity to have. Admission is $18 for students or pay what you wish on Saturday from 5:45-7:45 PM.