Maurizio Cattelan (born 21 September 1960) is an Italian artist. He is known for his satirical sculptures, particularly La Nona Ora (1999) (The Ninth Hour, depicting Pope John Paul II struck down by a meteorite), Him (2001), and Love Lasts Forever (1997).
1 Early life and education
2 Artistic style
2.1 Selected works
2.2 Magazine projects
5 Art market
10 External links
Early life and education
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Cattelan was born on 21 September 1960 in Padua, Italy. He started his career in the 1980s making wooden furniture in Forlì (Italy).
He created a sculpture of an ostrich with its head buried in the ground, wore a costume of a figurine with a giant head of Picasso, and affixed a Milanese gallerist to a wall with tape. During this period, he also created the Oblomov Foundation.[further explanation needed]
Cattelan’s personal art practice has gained him a reputation as an art scene’s joker. All his works have a humorous twist. He has been described by Jonathan P. Binstock, curator of contemporary art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art “as one of the great post-Duchampian artists and a smartass, too”. Discussing the topic of originality with ethnographer, Sarah Thornton, Cattelan explained, “Originality doesn’t exist by itself. It is an evolution of what is produced. … Originality is about your capacity to add.”
Cattelan’s first artwork has been noted as a photo art piece in 1989 entitled ‘Lessico Familiare’ (Family Syntax), a framed self-portrait in which he is depicted forming a Hand Heart over his naked chest.
Cattelan is commonly noted for his use of taxidermy during the mid-1990s. Novecento (1997) consists of the taxidermied body of a former racehorse named Tiramisu, which hangs by a harness in an elongated, drooping posture. Another work utilizing taxidermy is Bidibidobidiboo (1996), a miniature depiction of a squirrel slumped over its kitchen table, a handgun at its feet.
In 1999 he started making life-size wax effigies of various subjects, including himself. One of his best known sculptures, La Nona Ora (1999) consists of an effigy of Pope John Paul II in full ceremonial costume being crushed by a meteor.
Between 2005 and 2010 his work has largely centered on publishing and curating. Earlier projects in these fields have included the founding of “The Wrong Gallery”, a store window in New York City, in 2002 and its subsequent display within the collection of the Tate Modern from 2005 to 2007; collaborations on the publications Permanent Food, 1996–2007 – with Dominique Gonzalez Foerster and Paola Manfrin – and the slightly satirical arts journal Charley, 2002–present (the former an occasional journal comprising a pastiche of pages torn from other magazines, the latter a series on contemporary artists); and the curating of the Caribbean Biennial in 1999. Along with long-term collaborators Ali Subotnick and Massimiliano Gioni, Cattelan also curated the 2006 Berlin Biennale. He frequently submitted articles to international publications such as Flash Art.
Cattelan’s art makes fun of various systems of order and he often utilizes themes and motifs from art of the past and other cultural sectors in order to get his point across. His work was often based on simple puns or subverts clichéd situations by, for example, substituting animals for people in sculptural tableaux. “Frequently morbidly fascinating, Cattelan’s humour sets his work above the visual pleasure one-liners,” wrote Carol Vogel of the New York Times.
Cattelan utilizes media to expose reality as well as blur the lines between reality and myth. Several of Cattelan’s works play off of the modern day spectacle culture. If a Tree Falls in the Forest and There is No One Around It, Does It Make a Sound (1998) is a piece that exemplifies this idea. The work consists of a taxidermied donkey with its head bowed low, carrying a television on its back. It is meant to conjure up the image of Christ riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, for Palm Sunday. The television taking Christ’s seat on the Donkey serves a blatant representation of media culture’s replacing tradition as the new object of praise. Hollywood (2001) is also re-figures a current reality in front of a new context. The whole of the work entails a giant replica of the southern California Hollywood sign overlooking a dump in Palermo, Sicily.
Cattelan’s manipulation of photos and his publications of magazine compilations such as Permanent Food and Charley did not come about without their influences. The artist attributes his love of finding the uncanny, the silly, or the seductive in just about any mundane or sensational object, as traceable to the works of Andy Warhol. As Cattelan states, “That’s probably the greatest thing about Warhol: the way he penetrated and summarized our world, to the point that distinguishing between him and our everyday life is basically impossible, and in any case useless.” Permanent Food and Charley differ in sophistication. Both consist of crude layouts, having magazine pages compiled together torn from outside sources. The latter, however, was backed by a wide list of recognizable and credible curators. His most recent publication, Toilet Paper, differs greatly from the two previously mentioned, as its photographs were originally planned and designated solely for the magazine. The level of originality for this magazine surpassed the others, providing the audience vague, oddly familiar photographs to peruse through. Toilet Paper is a surrealist pantomime of images that the viewer cannot easily trace back to a starting point, while they’ve most likely been conjured by popular culture. It is a whirlwind of loud colors mixed in with the occasional black-and-white photo: “the pictures probe the unconscious, tapping into sublimated perversions and spasms of violence.”
Him by Maurizio Cattelan, depicting Adolf Hitler kneeling in prayer, exhibited in a courtyard in the former Warsaw Ghetto.
One of his most controversial art works is Ghost Track: in December 2009 for his solo show in Milan there was a “strange” similarity between the puppets representation of himself and Massimo Tartaglia (Silvio Berlusconi attacker in December 2009). The media effect and many similarities with La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour) suggest that “ghost track” is truly a ghost art work of Maurizio Cattelan.
Turisti, his new work for the 2011 Venice Biennale made up of 2,000 embalmed pigeons.
L.O.V.E (2011), a 11-metre (36 ft) white marble sculpture middle finger sticking straight up from an otherwise fingerless hand, pointing away from Borsa Italiana in Milan.
Him (2001): a sculpture resembling a schoolboy kneeling in prayer, except that the head has been replaced with the realistic likeness of Adolf Hitler. The sculpture was frequently displayed at the end of a long hallway or at the opposite end of a white room, turned away from the viewer so that they wouldn’t be able to recognize the individual until they advanced close enough.
One of his most famous artworks is a sculpture of Pope John Paul II hit by a meteorite, titled La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour), made in 1999. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London as part of the prestigious Apocalypse show, and was sold at Christie’s for $886,000.
At the 1999 Venice Biennale, Cattelan created Mother, a project that involved an Indian fakir, who practiced a daily ritual of being buried beneath sand in a small room, with only his clasped hands visible.
Turisti (Tourists) (1997), taxidermied pigeons and fake pigeon feces exhibited in the Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of 1997
In 1997, at the Consortium in Dijon, Cattelan dug a coffin-shaped hole in the floor of the museum’s main gallery to acknowledge his own frailty in the face of having to mount a museum show.
Another Fucking Readymade (1996): For an exhibition at the de Appel Arts Center in Amsterdam, he stole the entire contents of another artist’s show from a nearby gallery with the idea of passing it off as his own work, until the police insisted he return the loot on threat of arrest.
For Errotin, le vrai Lapin (1995), he persuaded his gallerist Emmanuel Perrotin to wear a giant pink rabbit costume shaped like a phallus to Cattelan’s gallery opening
Working Is a Bad Job (1993): At the 1993 Venice Biennale he leased his allotted space to an advertising agency, which installed a billboard promoting a new perfume.
Untitled, 2001 (2001), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Untitled, 2001 (2001), installation created for the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam that depicts the artist peering mischievously from a hole in the floor at a gallery of 17th-century Dutch masters.
As part of the 2001 Venice Biennale, he erected a full sized HOLLYWOOD sign over the largest rubbish tip on Palermo, Sicily.
Daddy, Daddy (2008) was initially premiered in the group exhibition theanyspacewhatever (2008–09) at the Guggenheim Museum. The piece was a site-specific installation in a small pool at the bottom of the Frank Lloyd Wright atrium rotunda, where a life-size Pinocchio doll lay face-down, giving the impression that he had jumped or fallen from above. “Cattelan’s life-size effigy of a beloved fairytale character lying face down in the museum’s fountain reads as a crime scene replete with questions of intent: suicide, homicide, or ill-planned escape?” Daddy, Daddy was also featured more recently in the Guggenheim’s 2015 summer exhibition of Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim.
ILa Rivoluzione Siamo Noi (We are the revolution) (2000), features a miniature Maurizio Cattelan, dangling from a Marcel Breuer–designed clothing rack. In this depiction, Cattelan seeks to sets himself apart from the German artist Joseph Beuys, countering Beuys’ statement, “every man is an artist”, with his own, “I am not an artist”.
The photograph Don’t Forget to Call You Mother (2000) was utilized as a show invitation card, upon its introduction, by the Marian Goodman Gallery in New York City. “The sign ironically reminds customers of their mothers’ worries each time they approach the bar to drink…in mimicking this stern parental directive, the sign draws on attitudes regarding authority, independence, and disobedience” (Susan Thompson).
Big Paintings, a series of large scale paintings (297x210cm and 210x210cm) distorting masterpieces from the art history.
From 1996 to 2007, together with Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Paola Manfrin, Cattelan published 15 issues of Permanent Food: a magazine built by pages torn from other magazines.
In 2009, Cattelan teamed up with Italian photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari to create an editorial for W magazine’s Art Issue. In 2010, they founded the magazine Toiletpaper, a bi-annual, picture-based publication. As part of a public art series at the High Line in 2012, Toiletpaper was commissioned with a billboard at the corner of 10th Avenue and West 18th Street in New York, showing an image of a woman’s manicured and jeweled fingers, detached from their hands, emerging from a vibrant blue velvet background. In 2014, Cattelan and Ferrari produced a fashion spread for the Spring Fashion issue of New York Magazine.
In the project entitled 1968, A Toiletpaper collaboration between Maurizio Cattelan, Pierpaolo Ferrari and the Deste Foundation in Athens, Cattelan celebrates the works and time of Dakis Joannou and his collection of radical design. “1968 is a collection of dreams and nightmares, an inspiring compendium of colorful, ironic materials, objects, and bodies. Toiletpaper’s interpretation of the collection results in mind blowing photographs that trap us in a complex system of references, crossing layers, three dimensional and real time collages. 1968 is a rainbow, the memory of a storm and the positive projection of a newborn sun: the history plus the future, masterly shown in the drawings by one of the primary characters of the radical design movement, Alessandro Mendini, who adds a vital contribution to Toiletpaper’s visuals.”—P.  of cover.
On opening night of the Maurizio Cattelan retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum of New York, a Hummer stretch limo with the words “TOILETPAPER” printed on the side was not-so-discreetly parked outside the museum. The images in the magazine might appear to have been appropriated from world’s most surreal stock-photograph service, but they’re all made from scratch. “Every issue starts with a theme, always something basic and general, like love or greed,” Cattelan has explained. “Then, as we start, we move like a painter on a canvas, layering and building up the issue. We always find ourselves in a place we didn’t expect to be. The best images are the result of improvisation”. Many images are rejected, he said, because they’re “not Toiletpaper enough”. What makes a Toiletpaper photo? “We keep homing in on what a Toiletpaper image is. Like distilling a perfume. It’s not about one particular style or time frame; what makes them Toiletpaper is a special twist. An uncanny ambiguity.”
Cattelan’s work has been on view in numerous solo exhibitions, at the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich; Artpace, San Antonio, Texas; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Kunsthalle Basel, Basel; Project 65 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; as well as at Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Le Consortium, Dijon; the Hôtel des Monnaies, Paris; and Wiener Secession, Vienna. A major retrospective, assembling 130 objects of Cattelan’s career since 1989, opened in 2011 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Cattelan has also exhibited at Skulptur Projekte Münster (1997), the Tate Gallery, London (1999), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2003) and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2003), and participated in the Venice Biennale (1993, 1997, 1999, and 2002), Manifesta 2 (1998), Luxembourg, Melbourne International Biennial 1999, and the 2004 Whitney Biennial in New York. In 2004, Cattelan exhibited the controversial sculpture Untitled featuring 3 hanging kids for the Nicola Trussardi Foundation. In 2012, he participated in the group show Lifelike originating at the Walker Art Center.
On the occasion of his 2011-2012 retrospective exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, Cattelan announced his early retirement. However, in 2016, he returned from retirement to create a new exhibit at the Guggenheim, Maurizio Cattelan: America. For America, Cattelan replaced a public toilet in the museum with a fully functional replica cast in 18-karat gold. The exhibit proved popular, with visitors lining up to wait for an opportunity to use the toilet in private. In 2019 it was announced thta the toilet would be installed in Blenheim palace.
Cattelan was a finalist for the Guggenheim’s Hugo Boss Prize in 2000, received an honorary degree in Sociology from the University of Trento, Italy, in 2004, and was also awarded the Arnold Bode prize from the Kunstverein Kassel, Germany, that same year. A career prize (a gold medal) was awarded to Maurizio Cattelan by the 15th Rome Quadriennale. On 24 March 2009, at the MAXXI Museum of Rome, the singer Elio of the Elio e le Storie Tese, who announced that he was the real Cattelan, came to receive the prize.
In 2004, one of Cattelan’s best-known older pieces, a suspended, taxidermied horse titled The Ballad of Trotsky, was sold to Bernard Arnault in New York for $2.1 million (£1.15 million). Par Peur de l’Amour, a sculpture of an elephant hiding under a bedsheet that simultaneously conjures a child on Halloween and a Ku Klux Klan uniform, sold at Christie’s in 2004 for $2.7 million. Maurizio Cattelan’s Untitled (2001) was sold at an auction at Sotheby’s 2010 for $7.9 million. The artist’s proof of Him (2001) was sold at auction by Christie’s in 2016 for $17,189,000.
Cattelan appeared on American television program 60 Minutes. In 2016, a documentary about his life and work The Art World’s Prankster: Maurizio Cattelan was broadcast on BBC.
Cattelan was represented hanged with a noose around his neck in 2010 in the Vatican by the Sicilian artist Giuseppe Veneziano.
Maurizio Cattelan and Jens Hoffmann, 6th Caribbean Biennal, Dijon, Les presses du réel, 2001, ISBN 978-2-84066-050-7
Francesco Bonami, Nancy Spector, Barbara Vanderlinden and Massimiliano Gioni, Maurizio Cattelan, London, Phaidon Press, 2003, ISBN 978-0-7148-4306-3
Maurizio Cattelan, Massimiliano Gioni and Ali Subotnick, Of Mice and Men, Berlin, Hatje Cantz, 2006, ISBN 978-3-7757-1765-6
Giorgio Verzotti, Maurizio Cattelan, Milan, Charta, 2009, ISBN 978-88-8158-267-9
Franklin Sirmans, Maurizio Cattelan: Is There Life After Death?, Yale University Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-300-14688-2
Nancy Spector, Maurizio Cattelan: All, New York, Guggenheim Museum, 2011, ISBN 978-0-89207-416-7
Holzwarth, Hans W. (2009). 100 Contemporary Artists A-Z (Taschen’s 25th anniversary special ed.). Köln: Taschen. pp. 100–101. ISBN 978-3-8365-1490-3.
Worth, Alexi. “A Fine Italian Hand.” New York Times Magazine (2010): 68. Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 16 November 2011.
A Head of His Time: Exploring the commodious nature of art, Gene Weingarten, reprint at Jewish World Review, January 21, 2005
Thornton, Sarah (2014). 33 Artists in 3 Acts. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 152. ISBN 9780393240979.
Cué, Elena (2015-01-30). “A Conversation With Maurizio Cattelan”. Huffington Post. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
“Lessico familiare – Maurizio Cattelan – Google Arts & Culture”. Google Cultural Institute. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
Cué, Elena. “Interview with Maurizio Cattelan by Elena Cué”. Alejandra de Argos. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
Roberta Smith (November 3, 2011), A Suspension of Willful Disbelief New York Times.
Maurizio Cattelan, February 12 – August 15, 2010 Menil Collection, Houston.
“The greatest little gallery on earth”. The Guardian. 2005-12-20. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-04-14.
CAROL, VOGEL. “Don’t Get Angry. He’s Kidding. Seriously.” New York Times 13 May 2002: 1. Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 16 November 2011.
“Arts Curriculum”. www.guggenheim.org. Retrieved 2016-04-14.
Spector, Nancy, and Maurizio Cattelan. “Catalogue [1989-2011].” Maurizio Cattelan: All. New York, NY: Guggenheim Museum Publications :, 2011. Print.
Lokke, Maria (2011-11-18). “Maurizio Cattelan’s Toilet Paper”. The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2016-04-14.
Ghost Track (Duomo Place, Milan 2009) Images that prove a “strange” similarity between the puppets representation of himself and Massimo Tartaglia
“Maurizio Cattelan under attack for his 2,000 embalmed pigeons”. Wanted Worldwide. Archived from the original on 2011-06-18. Retrieved 2011-06-01.
Christina Passariello (May 13, 2011), At Milan’s Bourse, Finger Pointing Has Business Leaders Up in Arms Wall Street Journal.
Maurizio Cattelan (b. 1960) La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour), Christie’s, New York, May 17, 2001.
Maurizio Cattelan, February 22 – March 25, 2000 Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.
Maurizio Cattelan, turisti, 1997 Christie’s, 9 February 2005, London.
Maurizio Cattelan, Una Domenica a Rivara (A Sunday in Rivara), 1992 Phillips de Pury & Company, London.
Maurizio Cattelan: All, November 4, 2011 – January 22, 2012 Archived June 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Maurizio Cattelan Guggenheim Collection.
“Collection Online | Maurizio Cattelan. Daddy, Daddy. 2008 – Guggenheim Museum”. www.guggenheim.org. Retrieved 2016-04-14.
“theanyspacewhatever”. web.guggenheim.org. Archived from the original on 2015-10-07. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
“Collection Online | Maurizio Cattelan. We are the Revolution (La Rivoluzione siamo noi). 2000 – Guggenheim Museum”. www.guggenheim.org. Retrieved 2016-04-14.
“Maurizio Cattelan on ArtStack – art online”. My Favorite Arts.
Maria Lokke (November 18, 2011), Maurizio Cattelan’s Toilet Paper The New Yorker.
Carol Vogel (May 31, 2012), A Cattelan Billboard for the High Line New York Times.
Portfolio: Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari’s Surreal Take on the New Season New York Magazine, February 7, 2014.
Cattelan, Maurizio. 1968. Athens: Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art/Toiletpaper, 2014. Print.
“Koha online catalog › ISBD view”. library.guggenheim.org. Retrieved 2016-04-14.
Maurizio Cattelan Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.
“Whitney Biennial 2006 :: Day for Night”. www.whitney.org. Retrieved 2016-04-14.
Sheets, Hilarie M. (April 19, 2012). “Use Your Illusion”. ARTnews. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
“Maurizio Cattelan: “America””. Guggenheim. 2016-05-12. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
“Maurizio Cattelan gold toilet set for Blenheim Palace appearance”. BBC News. 5 May 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
Cattelan Wins Career Award from Quadriennale di Roma Archived 2009-05-27 at WebCite «Artinfo» 27 March 2009. URL referred on 31 May 2009.
(in Italian) Maurizio Cattelan conquista la XV Quadriennale d’arte di Roma. Archived 2009-03-27 at the Wayback Machine. «Libero»/«adnkronos». 24 March 2009. URL referred at «liberonews.it» on May 31, 2009..
(in Italian) Premio a Cattelan, ma si presenta Elio «Il Tempo», 25 March 2009. URL referred on 31 May 2009.
(in Italian) Cattelan receive the prize at MAXXI, Rome. (swf) Archived 2011-05-24 at the Wayback Machine. 24 March 2009. Video at Rome Quadriennale website. URL referred on 31 May 2009..
John Hooper (19 July 2005), Former lover accuses Cattelan of stealing her ideas The Guardian.
Sotheby’s TV, YouTube.
Christie’s auction results for ‘Bound To Fail’ sale.
“Giuseppe Veneziano, scandalo al sole” (in Italian). goleminformazione.it. Retrieved 21 March 2019. Ma l’opera che fece più scandalo fu un ritratto dell’artista Maurizio Cattelan con un cappio al collo
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