maurizio cattelan: all retrospective at guggenheim, new york
maurizio cattelan: all retrospective at guggenheim, new york maurizio cattelan: all retrospective at guggenheim, new york
nov 08, 2011

maurizio cattelan: all retrospective at guggenheim, new york

 maurizio cattelan: all retrospective at guggenheim, new york designboom image © alessandro ghirelli




maurizio cattelan: all guggenheim museum, new york until january 22, 2012


italian-born artist maurizio cattelan is considered to be one of the most provocative contemporary artists of our time. his controversial work draws on today’s popular culture, history and organized religion in a profound way, injected by doses of humor, in an attempt to lighten the vehement themes at hand. his cultural critique is expressed through disturbingly hyperrealistic sculptures which reveal contradictions inherently apparent at the core of today’s society.




designboom image © alessandro ghirelli



much of cattelan’s artistic practice is fueled by his childhood. growing up in the northern italian city of padua, his youth was marked by economic hardships at home, punishment at school and employment in a slew of menial jobs. these early experiences have become embedded in the artist in the form of his abiding mistrust of authority and disdain for the laborious workforce which is particularly evident in much of his early artistic production.


amidst his politically and socially charged oeuvre, the artist always presents himself within, his own characteristic features acting as a mainstay of his iconography, promoting himself as an everyman, portraying himself as the fool so that we the viewers don’t have to.



each work is suspended from the oculus of the guggenheim’s rotunda designboom image © alessandro ghirelli



offensive, truculent, cheeky can all be used to describe the gestures cattelan depicts through his sculpture. this anarchist approach extends into works which revolve around issues of his italian identity and tensions of the country’s continuously shifting political landscape. in addition a profound concentration on the mortality of forms can be found at the core of his practice, the recurring use of taxidermy, presenting a state of apparent life, premised by actual death being used as a means of exploring this thematic concern.



ground view designboom image © alessandro ghirelli



this retrospective presentation of maurizio cattelan at the guggenheim museum, new york is a summation of everything the artist has produced since 1989. appropriately entitled ‘all’, each piece on show is hoisted up by rope, as if on gallows, hanging down from the iconic oculus of the guggenheim’s rotunda. in true cattelan-style, this unconventional arrangement of his work resists the traditional exhibition format. the sculptures suspended from the ceiling, as a whole, appear like a mass execution, which en masse is an overarching, tragic artwork in itself. the context of this chronological retrospective creates a site specific installation which celebrates its own futility, an ultimate sublimation of cattelan’s genre.


see designboom’s preview article of maurizio cattelan’s exhibition ‘all’ here.



designboom image © alessandro ghirelli



view of ‘la nona ora’, 1999 designboom image © alessandro ghirelli



installation view of ‘not afraid of love’, 2000 designboom image © alessandro ghirelli



david heald © solomon r. guggenheim



the artist represents himself within his work, his own distinctive features a mainstay of his iconography designboom image © alessandro ghirelli




designboom image © alessandro ghirelli



up close look at ‘him’, 2011 designboom image © alessandro ghirelli



designboom image © alessandro ghirelli



david heald © solomon r. guggenheim

  • Cattelan is more autobiographical novelist than visual artist — he doesn’t transform the visual so much as represent his manipulated memories. There’s a narrative in most of his images, a short story or perhaps a poem. And most are far too personal to be shared by many others, and therefore humble, not vaunting. The Guggenheim has rarely been filled with such richly poignant humanity.

    Tom P says:
  • i love that guy!

    @ Tom P : i don’t think “most of [is work is] far too personal to be shared by many others”. all the opposite actually. his language is accessible on a very simple way and “speaks” loud & clear.

    buzzoff says:
  • Photos cannot do Maurizio Cattelan: All justice. Except for maybe the photos of stunned museum goers who can’t believe their eyes! Where else will you see animals suspended in the air?!

    Austin Scott Brooks says:

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