November 4, 2011–January 22, 2012
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.
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.
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.