arts

Solid gold toilet to land in English stately home

Published 3rd May 2019
Maurizio Cattelan's "America" was previously on display at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
Credit: Jacopo Zotti/MENOMENOPIU ARCHITECTS/Maurizio Cattelan Archive
Solid gold toilet to land in English stately home
Written by Jack Guy, CNN
A golden throne in an English stately home might not sound that surprising -- but this is a throne with a difference.
A solid 18-karat-gold toilet will be installed at Blenheim Palace, home of the Duke of Marlborough, as part of an exhibition by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan -- his first solo show in Britain in 20 years.
"I am constantly inspired by the past and how nothing has really changed, so to show my work at Blenheim Palace -- a place full of history and humanity -- is significant to me," said the artist in a press release.
The exhibition, hosted by the Blenheim Art Foundation, will feature new works by the artist, but the main attraction is sure to be "America" -- the fully functioning gold toilet that will be plumbed into a room adjacent to the one in which Winston Churchill was born.
The work could be seen as a comment on the social, political and economic disparities in the United States, a press release announcing the exhibition reads.
Cattelan is known for his contempt for the art world.
Cattelan is known for his contempt for the art world. Credit: Pierpaolo Ferrari
It also "highlights the inescapable commonalities of the human body despite social and economic differences," the release continues.
The 58-year-old artist is known for his controversial installations and contempt for the art world. In 1989, at his first solo exhibition, Cattelan closed the gallery and left a sign on the door that said "Back Soon." One of his most popular works is a gigantic middle finger installed right in front of Milan's stock exchange.
In 2011, after hanging his remaining works in the atrium of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the artist announced his retirement.
"America" was his comeback work and hit the headlines in 2016 when it went on display at the Guggenheim.
Interpretations of the work varied. An American man waiting in line with his daughter told CNN he wasn't interested in the artwork: He just wanted a photo to post on Instagram. A Russian woman said she wanted to know what it's like to be rich, while a German woman said it was a reminder that "everybody shits."
Blenheim Art Foundation will host the work at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England.
Blenheim Art Foundation will host the work at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England. Credit: Pete Seaward
And the golden bowl got another moment in the sun in 2017.
President Donald Trump's White House emailed the Guggenheim and asked to borrow Vincent Van Gogh's 1888 painting "Landscape with Snow," but the curator of the famed institution had a counteroffer: the gold toilet.
Now Cattelan comes to Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, southern England, where the exhibition will run from September 12 to October 27.
"His work can make us laugh and quake in turn, with its acerbic comments on the world we live in. I believe that his wry wit, stoicism and fantastical vision are exactly what we need in these times of global flux and uncertainty," Edward Spencer-Churchill, the current Duke of Marlborough's half-brother and founder of the Blenheim Art Foundation, said in the press release.