If you’ll indulge us with some potty humor for a moment. The Guggenheim Museum in New York rejected Donald Trump’s request to loan out a Vincent van Gogh painting to display in the White House, offering up an aesthetically eclectic artwork for the “stable genius“ instead: a fully functioning, solid gold toilet.
Per the Washington Post, Trump and his wife, Melania, put in a request for Van Gogh’s gorgeous 1888 painting “Landscape With Snow” last fall, only to be thwarted by the museum’s chief curator, Nancy Spector. Instead, she offered up the posh toilet—titled “America”—by contemporary art world prankster Maurizio Cattelan to the Trumps, which was previously displayed in the Guggenheim’s public restrooms and open to public use for a time.
Cattelan “would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan,” Spector, who has been a vocal detractor of Trump, wrote in an emailed response to the White House’s own curator. “It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care...we are sorry not to be able to accommodate your original request, but remain hopeful that this special offer may be of interest.”
It’s assumed the White House didn’t take advantage of this generous offer to be pioneers of postmodern, interactive art, as they couldn’t be reached for comment to address the l’arte snub. However, the notoriously private Cattelan offered a brief quip when reached by the Post: “It’s a very delicate subject. What’s the point of our life? Everything seems absurd until we die and then it makes sense.”
As the Post notes, it’s been common for decades for U.S. presidents to request works of art on loan from museums—so Trump’s Van Gogh inquiry wasn’t inherently unusual. Barack Obama, for instance, enjoyed the abstract-expressionism of Mark Rothko, while John F. Kennedy fancied himself a Eugène Delacroix enthusiast. Maybe Trump will have better luck with the MoMa instead. Or not.