Two stories from the art world in the Post this morning clash mightily in sensibility.


Bravo to the Guggenheim. To the Trump White House request for a loan of high-culture art, the Guggenheim sent regrets. The president, or someone close to him, had requested to borrow a painting by van Gogh (perhaps known to Trump because he is huge in the art world). But the esteemed art institution says that work is not available, and proposed an alternative – a toilet. That’s right, an 18-karat golden loo, which can be plumbed for actual use.

I wonder whether the White House will get the meaning of the suggested a swap from ‘van Gogh’ to just ‘go.’

And a big fail to the cowardly National Gallery of Art in Washington. Collapsing under unstated pressure of imagined public response, the museum has cancelled exhibitions because the artists stand accused of improprieties. One, a show of Chuck Close’s work, was to open just weeks from now (suggesting to me that fees have been paid, captions have been proofed and printed, and promotional materials released). The other is a show by Thomas Roma.

Reader comments to the article on the Post website correctly point out that without the artists whose public or private behavior were suspect — in their lifetimes or by 21st century standards — gallery walls would be empty.

Comment at

Photo taken from Washington Post website today.