Maurizio Cattelan, America, 2016.

Maurizio Cattelan

New York

Guggenheim Museum

Latrine, potty, WC, john, head, loo, privy, throne-polite epithets for the lowly toilet-are feeble descriptions for the plumbing fixture when it achieves high art honors, as it does with Maurizio Cattelan’s America, a fully functioning, 18-karat-gold replica of a commercial Kohler model. Set inside the Guggenheim’s fifth floor unisex lavatory and accorded the same egalitarian public access as its more accessibly priced porcelain cousins, it transcends all prior notions of performance and interactive art. With its lofty 5th Avenue digs and surely astronomical price tag, the pedestrian appliance-in art reviews, articles, press releases, and museum wall text-insists on its non-euphemistic title. Eighteen-karat gold anything, it seems, needs no alibi. Arriving at the Guggenheim one brisk October morning, I joined a snaking line of approximately 50 visitors, mostly foreign tourists, all waiting an hour or more for a maximum five minutes alone with the golden toilet. Why, I wondered would visitors from China, Italy, Austria, Australia, and France spend precious museum time in this long line?…see the entire review in the print version of January/February’s Sculpture magazine.