The chief curator and so-called artistic director of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City crapped all over America last week. What should be one of the most esteemed cultural institutions in the world has been flushed into the sewer by this woman, a troll unworthy of the company of the late, great Peggy Guggenheim.
Curator Nancy Spector seems to have appointed herself the spokeswoman of the Leftist Intelligentsia (as if such a thing could exist). This weekend’s worldwide news is full of the account of her snide and adolescent offer to loan a “sculpture” of a solid 18-karat gold toilet to the president and first lady for display in the White House. Apparently it is above her undoubtedly high pay-grade to respond to a White House curator’s request with any sense of decorum, professionalism, or even the basic manners expected of children who have progressed beyond the stage of bathroom humor.
As for humor, I find it particularly fitting that her last name is a homonym for specter: that which is terrifying, and haunts and torments others. After proving herself to be devoid of manners but full of venom and vengeance, Nancy Spector would be more aptly called Nasty Specter.
Lending art for display in the White House has been a tradition since the 1940s. As each new first family moves into the White House, typically the White House curator will request works to be loaned from a variety of museums, not only for personalizing private quarters, but also for public display. First ladies in particular have been instrumental in choosing works to display in this “People’s House,” which happens to be a bonafide museum supported by the nonprofit White House Historical Association.
By the time they were to leave the White House, the Obamas had 47 pieces of fine art on loan from a variety of museums, with 36 of them displayed in their private residence. Ironically, Michelle Obama’s interior designer reports that in her choices of art for the private quarters “Mrs. Obama often talks about bringing new voices into the national conversation.” This wasn’t much of a “conversation,” as it happened, given that the nation never had much of a part in it. Indeed it was not until the Obamas’ last months in the White House, that Architectural Digest published a cover story about their time there, that the public was allowed a peek at those 36 works they had enjoyed privately for eight years.
In anticipation of newly elected President Trump and First Lady Melania moving into the White House, former National Gallery curator Mark Rosenthal expressed interest in the choices they would make in displaying fine art in both the private and public rooms. “What a person or family chooses to live with is incredibly telling about their openness to visual experiences,” he says. “One ought to be expanding one’s horizons all the time.” He reports that typically, the new first family sends someone to museums to choose art for their private living quarters. “It might be a friend, it might be a decorator . . . but someone designated by the president and first lady.”
Michelle Obama sent her interior designer to request specific works from several museums, and was readily accommodated. President and Mrs. Trump’s request for the loan of a particular Van Gogh painting came from Donna Hayashi Smith in the White House’s Office of the Curator. But as we now all know, instead of politely explaining why it was not possible to loan the Van Gogh to the White House, Nasty Spector wrote a foul and fetid response, saying that she instead could offer them the loan of a fully functioning, 18-karat solid gold toilet.
This golden toilet is the brainchild of Italian “art worker” Maurizio Cattelan, a man whose works run in the multi-million dollar range, and include other “masterpieces” such as La Nona Hora (The Ninth Hour)—a replica of Pope John Paul II being hit by and pinned under a meteor; and Ave Maria—a line of arms wearing business attire that extend from a wall giving the “Heil Hitler” Nazi salute. Spector explains that this “is a sign, perhaps, of the unabated rise of corporate power—(and) frighteningly suggests today’s normalization of neo-Nazi ideology here and abroad.”
But wait—in her own climb to the top of museum professional pecking order, isn’t Spector herself representative of that so-called unabated rise of corporate power? And by her own assertion, wouldn’t she herself then be included as one who represents neo-Nazi ideology?
Of course, Spector idolizes Cattelan, and refers to his works as “complex” and “laden with possible meanings.” She refers to the toilet, which Cattelan unforgivably named America, as “a cipher for the excesses of affluence,” but in fact, the meaning is as simple and as shallow as the bowl itself: people who are not a part of the so-called top 1 percent wealthy elite can go into a private bathroom stall at the museum and take turns making their own personal deposits in the golden toilet. Brilliant. But how is it that an Italian from Padova lives in New York, and with his art denigrates the very country that has afforded him the opportunity to become one of those wealthy persons he scorns?
If that by itself doesn’t make you want to spray some “Poo-Pourri,” consider that after keeping Spector around for 29 years, the director of the Guggenheim Foundation has entrusted her with a newly created position, saying he has “given fresh thought to the way the Guggenheim creates and manages its artistic program in New York and abroad.” He decided that she alone can “best provide leadership and strategic vision for collections, exhibitions and programs across all aspects of the Foundation and all the museums in our international constellation.”
I had the privilege of living in Italy with my family for several years on a college campus. On one particular study trip with students to visit Venice, our family chose to make a significant financial splurge in order to visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection housed in her palazzo on the Grand Canal in Venice. As a former museum educator myself, I was thrilled to visit and bring my then elementary school-age sons to explore the collections, giving them an introduction to the color, composition, lines, shapes, and movement of modern art. After our visit, we spent hours on end creating our own versions of expressionism, surrealism, and cubism. Already surrounded by the beauty of Italy, my children were now learning to see expressions of beauty in the abstract.
But there isn’t beauty in that bowl of the golden toilet. The Nasty Specter herself doesn’t want us to see beauty, let alone truth or goodness, in the works she exhibits. Instead, the message she plungers is one of ugliness, divisiveness, and hate. In her blog for the museum, she instructs that “the equation between excrement and art has long been mined by neo-Marxist thinkers who question the relationship between labor and value . . . there is also the ever-increasing divide in our country between the wealthy and the poor that threatens the very stability of our culture.”
Interesting, coming from a woman who works in a museum that exists solely because someone within the 1 percent elite collected priceless works of art and then made them available for public appreciation. Peggy Guggenheim inherited the hard-earned wealth of her grandfather, an Ashkenazi Jew who escaped the oppression and misery of the Jewish ghettos in Switzerland. Meyer Guggenheim arrived in the United States like most immigrants, with little more than the shirt on his back. Because of the freedoms and opportunity in this great country, and through the sweat of hard work, he made his fortune in mining and smelting. His son Benjamin reaped the rewards of his father’s labors, and along with his mistress was a passenger aboard the Titanic. Reportedly, he was dressed in formal attire, sipping brandy and smoking cigars as the ship went under. Peggy Guggenheim was the heiress to this fortune. And at age 21 she inherited $2.5 million, which in today’s currency is equal to about $35.5 million.
I’ve not heard Nancy Spector denounce or ridicule Peggy Guggenheim for her inherited wealth; nor do I believe she considered for one moment that, according to Cattelan’s and her own description, the participatory golden toilet would be representative of Peggy Guggenheim herself.
Of course, Nasty Specter denounces and ridicules Trump for his inherited wealth, and like the rest of liberal America, she has worked herself into a lather over his candidacy and subsequent win of the Presidency. And now, she and the rest of the Left cannot get over the fact that he is the president of this great country. They whine and cry, they claw and grab at any opportunity to spew their festering hatred. The art she chooses to elevate embodies that same anger and hate, and she has the power to use the Guggenheim Foundation itself to spread it.
In her new role shaping the international programming and exhibits, she wields the power to be the voice of leftism, radical feminism, and neo-Marxism. I can’t help but wonder whether my own family’s experience of discovering beauty will soon be replaced with themes of anger, hate and divisiveness. If Nasty Specter’s email to the White House curator is any indication, Guggenheim visitors will find an orgy of ugliness. Specter may have the title of curator, but she has conserved nothing—and has relegated beauty to a toilet bowl.