artist of the day #25: Maurizio Cattelan

Throughout my tour of the Guggenheim’s latest exhibit I was flooded with ideas about suicide, children’s stories, idolization, religion, symbolism, sarcasm, anger, and pride amongst other things. To say the least, Maurizio Cattelan covers a lot of different subject matter.

He started off as a furniture designer in Italy and over the years transformed himself into the contemporary art world’s class clown. His work has been drenched in satire and he is an expert at poking fun at anything that is taken too seriously. Beyond his physical work he has done some interesting things as a curator, writer, and performer. He even likes to include his patrons in his work such as getting them to dress in elaborate costumes or simply duct-taping them to a gallery wall.

For years, museum and galleries alike have been trying to get Cattelan to show a retrospective of his work so that the world might analyze the method to his madness. He resisted doing anything along those lines because he wanted viewers to appreciate his work in isolation. He felt each piece should stand on its own. Well eventually he found a solution that could satisfy both desires. Cattelan decided the best way to get people to appreciate all of his works individually was to show them all together in a massive bunch, and oddly, he was exactly right. The latest exhibit at the Guggenheim entitled All just could not exist anywhere else. Here, each one of Maurizio Cattelan’s physical creations hangs from the ceiling without any type of method or organization. It is not organized according to date or theme, it is as if they put every piece into a big box, mixed it up, dumped it out, and then froze it before each piece hit the ground.

This causes the viewer to be forced to look at each piece more individually, because it typically has nothing in common with the other pieces around it. As the viewer climbs the spiral ramp of the Guggenheim, one is constantly discovering something they could not see from any other angle. You could see pieces that definitely seemed have related themes to other works, but with the arrangement, one could not follow a specific line of thought based on a time line like in most other retrospectives.

At the opening of this exhibit, Cattelan announced his retirement from the Art world. Whether this is a stunt or a reality is yet to be seen. But in the meantime, I suggest checking out this exhibit if you are in town. And don’t forget to pick up a special activity/ coloring book sold in the gift shop that goes along with the exhibit. This was possibly my favorite museum souvenir of all time.