Maurizio Cattelan (b.1960) is today's best-known Italian artist. In some ways an heir to the legendary Italian 'anti-artist' Piero Manzoni, Cattelan produces witty, unorthodox performances, sculptures and photoworks that are as varied as they are unsettling. This humorous, untraditional art often takes an off-centre standpoint at the margins of mainstream society to poke fun at art history, monumentality and nationalism. Cattelan was once a furniture designer, which infuses all his unconventional work with a surprising elegance that is especially striking. He works in a great variety of media. Examples include a real stuffed horse hung from the magnificent ceiling of a great Italian Palazzo (Novecento, 1997) in reference to Arte Povera artist Jannis Kounellis' exhibition of 12 real horses in Rome some thirty years before; and a 'homeless person' mannequin, realistically slumped on a city sidewalk, the lifeless reminder of the wasted human lives we witness daily in city streets. References to Arte Povera, classic Italian figurative sculpture and much post-war art and culture are blended in Cattelan's work with the artist's own idiosyncracies. Over the years, Cattelan - working with themes that vary from thievery to escapism to childhood - has consistently produced significant artworks that have captured the attention of the international art world and established him as one of the most exciting artists working today. Italian curator and critic Francesco Bonami describes in his Survey the artist's development in his local political and socio-historical context. In the Interview, critic and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum curator Nancy Spector draws out the aritist's 'slippery' personality while offering solid interpretations of the work. Belgium-based curator and writer Barbara Vanderlinden offers a firsthand response in the Focus to Cattelan's monumental project first shown at Manifesta 2 (1998), an untitled work consisting of a living tree growing from an exposed block of soil within the exhibition space itself. Cattelan has chosen an extract from Portnoy's Complaint (1969) by Philip Roth and extracts from ...Or Not to Be: A Collection of Suicide Notes (ed. Marc Etkind, 1997), both echoing the artist's often tragi-comical evocations of desperation and escapism. Maurizio Cattelan's statements and previous interviews, collected here, include his occasional appropriation of the words and even identities of others. In the Update section, critic and curator Massimiliano Gioni surveys Cattelan's work from 2000 to the present.
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This comprehensive monograph documents the work of Maurizio Cattelan, the best-known Italian artist to have emerged internationally in the 1990s. His work has featured in three editions of the Venice Biennale (1993; 1997; 1999) and in major venues worldwide, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998); and the Tate Gallery, London (1999). Cattelan creates sculptures that mock the art system and even the artist himself, with considerable wit and audacity. Poking fun at art history (with, for example, a giant, Disneyland-type figure of Pablo Picasso greeting visitors at New York's Museum of Modern Art), monumentality (with a tomb-like, marble epitaph listing all the football matches lost by the England team, exhibited in a prominent London gallery), his native Italy (in a major exhibition celebrating new Italian art, Cattelan created a rug forming a map of his country -inevitably trampled and soiled beneath museum visitors' feet), and often makes fun of himself and his own inability to be responsible, "serious" artist. Part jester, part accuser of the contemporary art world, part thief, Cattelan also conveys a lonely desperation behind the humour and sarcasm in his unconventional works.About the Author:
Francesco Bonami is Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, as well as Artistic Director of the Fondazione Sandretto ReRebaudengo per l'Arte in Turin, Fondazione Pitti Discovery in Florence and the Centro di Arte Contemporanea Villa Manin. He was the director of the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) and Co-Curator of Manifesta 3 (2000).Nancy Spector is Curator of Contemporary Art at the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York. Her exhibitions there have included 'Felix Gonzalez-Torres' (1995), 'Robert Rauschenberg: Performance' (1997) and 'Andreas Slominski' (1999). Spector is a regular contributor to Artforum, Parkett and Frieze. Barbara Vanderlinden (Focus) is an independent curator who founded and directs the independent exhibition space 'Roomade' in Brusssels. In 1998 she co-curatored of Manifesta 2 (Luxembourg, 1998), which included a new work by Maurizio Cattelan. Massimiliano Gioni is Curator of Fondazione Trussardi, Milan, and a founding Director of The Wrong Gallery, New York. He has co-curated such international exhibitions as Manifesta 5 (San Sebastian, 2004) and the 4th Berlin Biennial (2006).
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