Maurizio Cattelan

(b. 1960)

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(1960– )

Italian sculptor and installation artist, born in Padua. He worked at various jobs and made furniture before starting his career as an artist (he had no professional artistic training). His provocative work often takes the form of bad-taste jokes. His most celebrated work is probably Ballad for Trotsky (1996), a horse suspended from the ceiling. Bidibidobidiboo (1996) is a stuffed squirrel which has apparently shot itself at a table. In The Ninth Hour (1999) a realistically modelled figure of the Pope has been struck by a meteorite. The icons of modern art are also subjected to irreverence. In 1998 Cattelan hired an actor to stand outside the New York Museum of Modern Art wearing a giant Picasso head. He sometimes includes models of himself in his work. We Are the Revolution (2000) takes its title from Joseph Beuys: it is the caption of a photograph of the German artist striding purposefully forward. Cattelan presents a dummy of himself hanging from a coat rack wearing a felt suit, another reference to Beuys. Nor were his dealers exempt, one being taped to the wall of his gallery for a day, another being dressed as a pink rabbit. In one case a work by Cattelan provoked a violent public reaction. In 2004, in Milan, Cattelan hung from a tree three models of children with nooses around their necks. A man was injured when he attempted to cut them down. Cattelan's iconoclastic mockery of religion, politics, and art makes most sense against a background of the ideological earnestness of a previous generation. The violence from both left and right which marked the political struggles in Italy can hardly provoke the glow of nostalgia many feel for the May 1968 events in Paris. An early installation by Cattelan directly referred to the terrorism of the past by using a blow-up of a newspaper page showing the Italian Prime Minister Aldo Mori, kidnapped and murdered by the Red Brigades in 1978. The artist changed the star above the head of Mori, the Communist emblem of the kidnappers, into the Christmas Star of Bethlehem.

Further Reading

F. Manacarda, Maurizio Cattelan (2006)

Subjects: Art.

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