A new, site-specific work by Maurizio Cattelan has been opened at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on September 16, 2016. For Maurizio Cattelan: “America”, the artist replaces a toilet in one of the museum’s public restrooms with a fully functional replica cast in solid gold. Cattelan is often described as the art world’s resident prankster and provocateur; this installation is the first artwork he has produced since his 2011–12 Guggenheim retrospective, Maurizio Cattelan: All, which initiated the artist’s self-imposed exile.
The new work makes 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 an artwork. Cattelan’s 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.
As an art historical gesture, “America” references Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917), a urinal presented as sculptural readymade. Created nearly a century after Duchamp’s seminal work, Cattelan’s installation may be understood as countering the artistic transgression of Fountain by restoring the function of their shared subject. “America” also alludes to Piero Manzoni’s examination of creative labor and value in the series Artist’s Shit (1961), in which Manzoni allegedly canned his own excrement and sold each container at a price equal to its weight in gold.
On the occasion of this new installation, the Guggenheim has published a revised edition of the catalogue Maurizio Cattelan: All. Originally published to accompany Cattelan’s 2011–12 retrospective at the museum, the catalogue has become the definitive source on his work. This new volume, available at the Guggenheim Museum Store, is distinguished by a reworked cover design and includes images of the All installation and a revised coda by Nancy Spector.
A new interview with Cattelan about his work and the installation is posted at guggenheim.org/blogs.
“America” is organized by Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Brooklyn Museum (former Deputy Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation).
Support for Maurizio Cattelan: “America” is provided by Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson, Wendy Fisher, Marian Goodman Gallery, Dakis and Lietta Joannou, Svetlana Kuzmicheva-Uspenskaya and Alexey Kuzmichev, Galerie Perrotin, Beth Swofford, and Dasha Zhukova.