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John Waters at the preview of his 2018 retrospective, “Indecent Exposure,” at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Photo: Chuck Patch.

John Waters Gifts Collection to Baltimore Museum of Art, Future Home of the John Waters Restrooms

City-proud cultural polymath John Waters has bequeathed 375 artworks and objects from his fine-art collection to the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), the institution announced yesterday. In exchange, and at Waters’s request, the BMA will name its east lobby bathrooms in his honor; additionally, the domed room in the European art galleries will henceforth be known as the John Waters Rotunda.

The self-described “Pope of Trash,” whose work encompasses film, writing, acting, sculpture, and photography, among other mediums, has promised the works to the BMA, where he was the subject of a major 2018 retrospective, on his death. Among the works are those by Diane Arbus, Richard Artschwager, Thomas Demand, Nan Goldin, Roy Lichtenstein, Lee Lozano, Christian Marclay, Catherine Opie, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Gary Simmons, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, and Christopher Wool, as well as roughly ninety works by Waters himself. On receiving the gift, the BMA will become the possessor of the most significant collection of the Baltimore legend’s work, much of which is expected to be on view in the first exhibition of the gifted collection, stipulated to take place by 2025. Additionally, five works from the bequest, including one by Waters, will remain on permanent display.

Waters in the Baltimore Sun characterized his wish for the restrooms to bear his name as analogous to the impulse that brought about Marcel Duchamp’s Untitled, 1917, a porcelain urinal bearing the artist’s signature. “They thought I was kidding and I said, ‘No, I’m serious.’ It’s in the spirit of the artwork I collect, which has a sense of humor and is confrontational and minimalist and which makes people crazy.”

The filmmaker went on to speculate about the possibility of works from his collection being displayed in the John Waters Restrooms. “I have a piece by Tony Tasset called I peed in my pants,” he noted. “There’s Wedged Lump by Mike Kelley that looks exactly like a giant turd. I also have George Stoll’s chiffon toilet paper. I have a lot of art that would work in a bathroom.”