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Maurizio Cattelan | Retrospective at Guggenheim, New York
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Maurizio Cattelan | Retrospective at Guggenheim, New York

maurizio cattelan
guggenheim museum, new york

worm’s-eye view of maurizio cattelan’s ‘all’ retrospective at the guggenheim museum, new york
designboom image © alessandro ghirelli

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.

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 

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