Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s bold, irreverent work, America, skewers social complacencies and re-imagines cultural icons. On the occasion of the artist’s 2011 – 2012 retrospective at the Guggenhiem, which featured virtually every work he had ever made suspended from the oculus of the rotunda, Cattelan announced his retirements from art making.
Five years later, he returns from his self-imposed exile with a new, ongoing project at the Guggenheim Museum. For America (2016), Cattelan replaced the Toilet in one of the museum’s unisex restrooms with a fully functional replica cast in 18K Gold, making available to the public an extravagant luxury product seemingly intended for the 1 percent.
Its participatory nature, in which viewers are invited to make use of the fixture individually and privately, allows for an experience of unprecedented intimacy with a work of art. Cattelan’s Golden Toilet offers a wink to the excesses of the art market, but also evokes the American dream of opportunity for all — its utility ultimately reminding us of the inescapable physical realities of our shared humanity.
Photographed in the Guggenheim Museum, Level 4 Restroom in the Rotunda, NYC.