“Fountain” and “America”, Political Potty Humor

“America”, by Maurizio Cattelan and “Fountain” by Marcel Duchamp

In his article in the Guardian on Monday September 16, 2019, Jonathan Jones brilliantly joins art historical jokes or pinnacles of art in crisis, namely Duchamp’s pissoir and Cattelan’s recently stolen golden toilet.

Duchamp’s “Fountain”, signed R.Mutt, sounding in German like Armut-poverty, or to be read as a surrealist jamble of words of the German word “Mutter”- mother, marked the birth of conceptual art today.

Duchamp declared the pissoir art in the throws of world war one, called it “Fountain” and signed it R.Mutt (with allusions to poverty and mother).

A symbol for a society in shambles and for the redundancy of the depiction of beauty in the midst of human slaughter.

Some 100 years later, Cattelan’s 18 carat gold toilet, titled “America” has been stolen from Winston Churchill’s birthplace-no less.

Cattelan’s functioning golden toilet titled “America” is leaving no doubts about the artist’s comment on the contemporary absurdist concoction of capitalism/art market/speculation/aesthetics and it’s nod to the emperor’s new clothes-syndrome.

First installed in New York’s Guggenheim museum in 2016, it was offered to the White House by Guggenheim curator Nancy Spector, thus snubbing the White House’s request to borrow Van Gogh’s “Landscape with Snow” as decoration for President and Melania Trump’s living quarters.

Now, how did Trump and Churchill get written into this joke?

Reference: The Guardian, Jonathan Jones, The stolen golden toilet: the perfect punchline to an 18-carat joke, Mon 16 Sep 2019


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