How Did Things Ever Get This Far?
“How did things ever get this far?”
-Vito Corleone in The Godfather
Virtually everybody is familiar with the scene that depicts the meeting of the heads of the “five families” in the classic movie The Godfather. Taking the floor, Vito Corleone laments that the violence of the late 1940s mob wars has gotten so out of hand.
I thought of that line the other day when I read about Guggenheim Museum curator Nancy Spector’s response to White House art curator Donna Hayashi Smith when she (Smith) requested the loan of Vincent Van Gogh’s painting Landscape of Snow from the Guggenheim collection, to be exhibited for a time at the White House. Such loan requests are commonplace and generally considered an honor for the museum.
But not this time. In response, Ms. Spector declined to offer the Van Gogh and instead offered to loan them………a toilet. Granted, it is reported to be an 18 carat solid gold toilet created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, installed in the Guggenheim as a “work of art” and until now used by the public.
Spector’s offer to the White House was described as being polite, but the intent cannot be missed. It was a snide, condescending response that defined Spector’s, and perhaps the Guggenheim’s, view of the current occupant of the White House.
I called the Guggenheim the other day, and fought my way through a phone tree that would discourage anybody. Unable to reach a live person in management, I left a voice mail in the Human Resources mailbox, stating that I wanted to offer my comments on the issue, and asked for a return call. Of course, none came.
I have voted in 12 presidential elections, and my candidates certainly did not always win. In fact, I am batting exactly .500. But I have always respected the fact that the other candidate did prevail, and I wished him well – knowing that I would have another opportunity to vote, and in a fairly short period of time.
But Spector and her management, which I am certain were aware of her planned response to the White House, have chosen to embarrass themselves, the art community at large, and much of the country with their arrogance. I can understand a New York City museum curator not voting for Trump. But such clear evidence of personal disdain and disrespect is beyond disheartening. Witness the photo below during this week’s State of the Union speech – Democrats seldom applauded even the most noncontroversial statements.
How did things ever get this far?