Maurizio Cattelan Hangs All in the Guggenheim Rotunda

Installation view: Maurizio Cattelan: All, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, November 4, 2011 - January 22, 2012 Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation


The 1960 born Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan copes with his late mid-life –crisis by a Guggenheim retrospective and the alleged retirement from his artistic practise. Mr. Cattelan earned his reputation as an art-scene’s provocative joker and trickster in the mid 1990s.



Renowned collectors have always appreciated his work more, than the critics, however, this may change with his retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York: For this show ‘All’, he had made smaller models of all his works and suspended them rather disrespectfully from the ceiling of the meaning generating rotunda. The intentionally ‘bad’ way of presentation is an act of denial against Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and obviously Guggenheim as an almighty institution in the art world.



Maurizio Cattelan: La Nona Ora, 1999, Polyester resin, wax, pigment, human hair, fabric, clothing, accessories, stone, glass, and carpet, dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist. © Maurizio Cattelan Photo: Attilio Maranzano


Provocative critique against all sorts of value systems always have been part of Maurizio Cattelan’s work: In 1999, he created a life-size wax figure of the Polish-born pope John Paul II, which was struck by a meteorite for a show in Catholic Poland.



Just like Andy Warhol, Mr. Cattelan also has had a background in advertising before he focused entirely on art. It is evident that his art works quickly -  like a sculptural cartoon. It provides perfect products for an art fair, where you see a large number of works in a short time. I like some of his works, because they appear surreal and funny, however I don’t think they can retain one’s fascination for very long.



Installation view: Maurizio Cattelan: All, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, November 4, 2011 - January 22, 2012 Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation


Maurizio Cattelan proclaimed to retire from his artistic practise after this show. In an interview, he stated that he would like to work as an assistant to mega-dealer Larry Gagosian. Most likely, both will not be true. In fact, it could be just another joke or statement of institutional critique: In 1964, Andy Warhol also proclaimed that he would retire from art in favour of his film career. Of course, he maintained the artistic practise of his factory, but the prices of his works gained in value afterwards.



Maurizio Cattelan: La Rivoluzione siamo noi, 2000, Polyester resin, wax, pigment, felt suit, and metal coat rack, figure: 123.8 x 35.6 x 43.2 cm; coat rack: 189.9 x 47 x 52.1 cm, Courtesy of the artist. © Maurizio Cattelan Photo: Attilio Maranzano


I consider Mr. Cattelan's statement just another move within Nicolas Bourriaud’s logic of relational aesthetics, where the artistic practise focuses rather on the holistic social contexts of society and making / dealing with art, rather than a subjecivel perspective only.







Maurizio Cattelan: ‘All’ at the Guggenheim Museum, New York

Through 22nd January 2012





Rivane Neuschwander: 'I wish your wish' of 2003; made of printed textile ribbons; dimensions vaiable (c) the artist; courtesy Tanya Bonakdar Gallery and New Museum, NYC
Liam Gillick: 'Status following closure', of 2008; powder-coated aluminum, Plexiglas; 300cm x 200cm x 30cm; (c) the artist; courtesy Bundeskunsthalle Bonn


Asman, 04-09-13 09:52
I agree with vvoi here. The content of the sucplture is inextricable from the space, the context. The most important part, in my opinion, is the guidance this sucplture provides for consideration. All the speculation about what it means and why it's there seems to be more the purpose than dictating that free market trade is negative or some such. Quite the opposite; instead of telling you what to think, it is opening up a specific space in which to think. It acts as a guide more than a dictator. Like vvoi asked, what are the severed fingers about? Is this the only thing the hand can say with only the one finger left? And what is it that did the severing? Could it be a (classically ironic) contemporary statement challenging the restrictions of genuine freedom by free markets and "crapitalism" themselves, while itself being touted as successful art right outside the physical home of these very same ideals? Or, among other possibilities, is Cattelan really just trying to get away with whatever he can while getting paid for it? The point is that the piece, specifically with its particular context, is there for you to make the considerations, to begin a dialogue with its audience. Even if it were true that Cattelan is playing a trick on us, and even more so on those who accepted the piece for placement at the stock exchange during a high profile period, does that negate it as art? Does that make it "merely" a cry for attention? I think not. On the other hand, I think this particular piece could be better suited to no other particular place and time for the reasons stated above. It is this very element itself that makes the sucplture successful.

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