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Art Explosion: Maurizio Cattelan at the Guggenheim

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If a naughty Catholic schoolboy had an unlimited budget to put on an exhibit at the Guggenheim, Maurizio Cattelan's All is likely what you'd end up with.

A retrospective for the notorious Italian prankster (he used to send other people to be interviewed in his guise), Cattelan is known for producing hyper-real sculptures, disconcerting taxidermy and lots of jokes -- too many jokes -- that play on Christianity, fascism and the art world. Certainly, the show is rife with one-liners, many of which have been stripped of their original context since many of Cattelan's pieces can be quite site-specific.

But the artist keeps the spectacle interesting by refusing to show his pieces in the ramp's galleries, dangling his life's work (including marble sculptures) from the Guggenheim's ceiling instead. It's surreal and bizarre, as if Alexander Calder had decided to create a giant mobile from a pile of Sanford & Son junk. It's not great. But it's sufficiently weird. Though, by the end of it you'll feel as if you've eaten too much candy.

Maurizio Cattelan, All, is on view at the Guggenheim through Jan. 22 at the Guggenheim.

Cattelan likes to toy with topics like art, religion and politics in jokey ways. The piece with the polyurethane arms giving the fascist salute is a sculpture titled 'Ave Maria,' from 2007.
Cattelan likes to toy with topics like art, religion and politics in jokey ways. The piece with the polyurethane arms giving the fascist salute is a sculpture titled 'Ave Maria,' from 2007. ( Carolina A. Miranda )
'Cuz there's nothing like looking at a horse's ass. One of Cattelan's untitled taxidermy pieces, also from 2007, shows what usually goes unseen -- a work I actually find quite compelling.
'Cuz there's nothing like looking at a horse's ass. One of Cattelan's untitled taxidermy pieces, also from 2007, shows what usually goes unseen -- a work I actually find quite compelling. ( Carolina A. Miranda )
Lining the entire hanging are Cattelan's stuffed pigeons -- which he installed to good effect at the Venice Biennale earlier this year.
Lining the entire hanging are Cattelan's stuffed pigeons -- which he installed to good effect at the Venice Biennale earlier this year.

Read more about that here.

( Carolina A. Miranda )
A crafty use of old <em>Flash Art</em> magazines, showing the art world as a house of cards. The piece, titled 'Strategies,' is from 1990.
A crafty use of old Flash Art magazines, showing the art world as a house of cards. The piece, titled 'Strategies,' is from 1990. ( Carolina A. Miranda )
There were snoozing taxidermy dogs everywhere. This one is titled 'Stone dead' and is from 1997. Rich people actually buy this stuff.
There were snoozing taxidermy dogs everywhere. This one is titled 'Stone dead' and is from 1997. Rich people actually buy this stuff. ( Carolina A. Miranda )
The view from above. Making me think that the gift store woulda been wise to sell earring-sized versions of this piece -- would go great with a slinky black number I have.
The view from above. Making me think that the gift store woulda been wise to sell earring-sized versions of this piece -- would go great with a slinky black number I have. ( Carolina A. Miranda )
One of my favorite parts of the installation: seeing the Guggenheim's ramps emptied of art -- a good opportunity to admire the architecture.
One of my favorite parts of the installation: seeing the Guggenheim's ramps emptied of art -- a good opportunity to admire the architecture. ( Carolina A. Miranda )
Bitch stole my haircut. Actually, it's a sculpture titled 'Frau C.,' from 2007 -- one of Cattelan's many pieces in which quotidian-looking figures assume Christ-like poses.
Bitch stole my haircut. Actually, it's a sculpture titled 'Frau C.,' from 2007 -- one of Cattelan's many pieces in which quotidian-looking figures assume Christ-like poses.

See a view of the piece's original installation.

( Carolina A. Miranda )
Another one of Cattelan's intersection between the worlds of fine art and Catholicism: a figures as a crucifixion inside an art shipping crate, also from 2007.
Another one of Cattelan's intersection between the worlds of fine art and Catholicism: a figures as a crucifixion inside an art shipping crate, also from 2007. ( Carolina A. Miranda )
From the sacred to the profane: When <em>Interview</em> magazine publisher Peter Brant commissioned a piece in 2003, Cattelan him gave a literal trophy of his wife, model Stephanie Seymour.
From the sacred to the profane: When Interview magazine publisher Peter Brant commissioned a piece in 2003, Cattelan him gave a literal trophy of his wife, model Stephanie Seymour.

More on that here.

( Carolina A. Miranda )
Even profaner: Cattelan's sculpture of Pope John Paul getting hit by a meteor. The sculpture is titled 'La Nona Ora,' and was made in 1999.
Even profaner: Cattelan's sculpture of Pope John Paul getting hit by a meteor. The sculpture is titled 'La Nona Ora,' and was made in 1999. ( Carolina A. Miranda )
And the profanest: His 2001 sculpture of a supplicant Hitler -- titled 'Him.'
And the profanest: His 2001 sculpture of a supplicant Hitler -- titled 'Him.' ( Carolina A. Miranda )
The extra-long foosball table in the middle is a piece titled 'Stadium' from 1991 -- and accommodates 11 players to a side (like an actual soccer team).
The extra-long foosball table in the middle is a piece titled 'Stadium' from 1991 -- and accommodates 11 players to a side (like an actual soccer team).

More on that piece here.

( Carolina A. Miranda )
Because no installation is complete without a giant floating Picasso doll. (A sculpture from 1998.)
Because no installation is complete without a giant floating Picasso doll. (A sculpture from 1998.) ( Carolina A. Miranda )
And yes, there is an elephant in the room -- a piece titled 'Not Afraid of Love.'
And yes, there is an elephant in the room -- a piece titled 'Not Afraid of Love.' ( Carolina A. Miranda )
And here's what I looked like once I'd been through the show.
And here's what I looked like once I'd been through the show. ( Carolina A. Miranda )
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