The Meaning and Purpose of Art — 5 | by Arup Roy | Jul, 2021


Q. The Donald Trump connection …

Art could be a very subtle, yet terrific way of insulting the powerful.

In 2017, the White House asked the Frank Lloyd Wright designed, Guggenheim museum in New York, if it could borrow a Van Gogh painting — “Landscape with Snow,” for President Trump’s personal chambers?

President Trump with the two artworks ( one that he desired and the other that he was offered)

However, in what can be called a masterstroke of a diplomatic email, the museum curator, Nancy Spector, politely declined the request, and offered another artwork instead! This artwork according to her would be better suited to the President’s tastes and personality.

She offered the White House, Maurizio Cattelan’s $ 6million, 18 carat gold, fully functional, toilet instead!

The genius of this idea, by the curator Nancy Spector, was a work of art in itself. By laying this clever trap, she added in so much more meaning to the Cattelan’s work and brought it to the centre of global news.

The trap laid was subtle yet watertight. The White House could not by any means call this as a blatant act of arrogance against the Head of the State. “America” indeed was a valuable and a highly acclaimed work of contemporary art. It would even be seen as a sensitive response to the president’s known tastes. What else can you give a man who regularly boasts he has everything, and whose New York home boasts gold ceilings, golden plant pots and a gold lift? A golden toilet might seem like the ultimate homage.

Besides what better place to have a work of art named “America,” than in the White House?

Unfortunately, though, the White House refused Spector’s very thoughtful, sensitive and generous offer!!! By then ( September’ 2017), the golden toilet had already been installed in the Guggenheim for about a year, and had been used by about a 100,000 people. Given the president’s OCD, maybe that could be a reason why it was refused … but that is just speculation!

The genius trap set by Spector, however, had not failed. Spector’s idea was designed to place art in a winning spot no matter if the White House accepted or declined her offer. And that is what happened. Art triumphed.

The sarcasm aimed at president Trump by the Guggenheim curator Nancy Spector, might have had another angle. Trump had recently called some of the countries in Africa as — “Shit-holes!!!” Ironically enough a lot of the gold and diamond and other precious metals and stones of the World, are stilled mined in Africa! May be that is why Spector though of presenting him a Shit-Pot made out gold mined from Africa!!

By declining the offer, Trump had shown his lack of a sense of humour. If he had it plumbed into the White House, Trump would have shown that he had a sense of humour, and understood democracy.

He might even be seen as more human!!!



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