Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan's 18-karat gold toilet at New York's Guggenheim Museum is giving the notion of "sitting on the throne" a whole new meaning.
Visitors who pay the museum's $15 admission fee are encouraged to stop by the unisex washroom on the fourth floor, where they can take a private moment with a fully functional commode fit for a king or queen. The exhibit opened on Thursday.
Gothamist.com estimated the value of the potty to be somewhere between $1.4 million and $2.5 million, and a Guggenheim spokesperson affirmed that it will be cleaned with special wipes every 15 minutes. Reviewers are cautioning, however, that the seat is very heavy to lift and, of course, one might be slightly uncomfortable with a security guard standing just outside the door.
The exhibit called "America" offers the visitor "unprecedented access to something of unquestionable value,” according to museum curator Nancy Spector. “In a gallery environment where visitors are constantly being told, 'don’t touch,' this is an extraordinary opportunity to spend time completely alone with a work of art by a leading contemporary artist."
The Guggenheim Museum noted 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.”
Cattelan told the The New York Times that he was happy that his work was not on a pedestal. "It’s not in a gallery. It’s in a little room, just waiting for you whenever you need it,” he said, adding, “When I saw it in there the other day for the first time, I cried. Well, almost.”
"This is 1 percent art for the 99 percent,” he told the New York Post.
On its Twitter page, the Guggenheim Museum posted a lighthearted notice about the opening of the irreverent installation: "Are you sitting down? Maurizio #Cattelan: "America" opens tomorrow, 9/15, in one of the museum’s public restrooms."
Catalan's artwork has generated a buzz throughout traditional and social media. CBS News' "Sunday Morning" ran a segment about the exhibition yesterday and the The New York Times posted its review last Thursday.
Lucky Times writer Randy Kennedy got to preview the facilities on opening day and reported the following: “As a formal matter, I’ll say that the sculpture really looks its best when in use, sparkling so much it’s almost too bright to look at, especially during the flush, which may be a new postmodern sublime.”
Kennedy noted that the "America" exhibit will remain in place and in use indefinitely.
Credit: Image via Twitter.com/Guggenheim Museum.