Most museums don’t want you to touch the art. But a new sculpture at the Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum really encourages interaction.
An Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan replaced the toilet in the Museum’s fourth-floor restroom with a fully functional replica cast in 18-karat gold.
Viewers are invited to use the solid gold toilet just as they would any other facility. The museum says on its website that the exhibit “offers a wink to the excesses of the art market but also evokes the American dream of opportunity for all.”
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Cattelan is often described as the art world’s resident prankster and provocateur. The new work makes available to the public an extravagant luxury product seemingly intended for the wealthy one percent.
A security guard will stand at the restroom’s entrance as people wait to use it, and will explain to visitors that it’s a piece of artwork before they enter.
(The guard will likely also protect the installation from those hoping to walk away with a highly valuable souvenir.) 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 an artwork.