Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Pranksters
Submitted by Roger:
by Carl Swanson
October 23, 2011:
After he’s done dangling his oeuvre from the Guggenheim’s atrium, Maurizio Cattelan plans to retire from the art world. It’ll be like being dead—or resurrected.
Maurizio Cattelan’s first show in New York, in 1994, consisted of a self-portrait in the form of a live donkey wandering around a gallery under a chandelier, braying inconsolably. That show wasn’t up long—there were noise complaints—but even now, when his always-wry sculptures sell for millions and his unbelievably elaborate full-rotunda Guggenheim retrospective is about to open, he retains that same posture of self-suspicion. “Today I would say I don’t know how I arrived at this point,” he says, sitting on a bench near a playground on West 28th Street, not far from the West Chelsea galleries, cocking a knowing eyebrow at a sudden whiff of marijuana in the air.* “I don’t know how I arrived at this point, at the Guggenheim. There must be something wrong somewhere.”
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Saturday, January 21, 6 pm, to Sunday, January 22, 1 am
in the Peter B. Lewis Theatre
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
5th Ave at 89th St
New York City
But wrongness is everything to Cattelan: It seems to be what matters to him, and his sculptures, the most. Since the late nineties, and right through the art boom, he’s created a body of work that is pleasurably, or off-puttingly, wrong. It’s what any sensible person seeing pretty much anything he has ever created thinks: The baby elephant on this page dressed up like a Ku Klux Klan member? A sculpture of a squirrel sitting at the kitchen table, having killed himself? Three sweet-faced, life-size boys strung up by their necks from a tree branch? And—most famously—the statue of Pope John Paul II knocked to the ground by a meteorite. All are just wrong. A few years back, he and some friends even ran something they called the Wrong Gallery in Chelsea, which consisted of a locked glass doorway and one square meter of exhibit space.
Unsurprisingly, he has gotten a reputation as a prankster, the art world’s class clown. For years, he’d send his friend Massimiliano Gioni (who collaborated on Wrong with him and today is the top curator at the New Museum) to pretend to be him at lectures; they cheekily named another gallery they ran, in Berlin, Gagosian. And now there’s the Guggenheim retrospective itself, which Cattelan refused to do unless the museum agreed to dangle all of his very valuable sculptures from its ceilingby an enormous truss. “You could describe the show as either salamis or toys,” Cattelan suggests. “It was the only way to do the show there,” he adds. “Actually, the building was forcing me to do this.”
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images: Spread Art Culture