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Art Explosion: Maurizio Cattelan at the Guggenheim

Friday, November 25, 2011 - 12:00 AM

WNYC
Art as cascade: For his retrospective at the Guggenheim, Italian prankster Maurizio Cattelan strung all his art from the ceiling. Art as cascade: For his retrospective at the Guggenheim, Italian prankster Maurizio Cattelan strung all his art from the ceiling. (Carolina Miranda/WNYC)

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.

Carolina A. Miranda
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.
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.

Read more about that here.

Carolina A. Miranda
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.
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.
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.
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.

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.
Carolina A. Miranda
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.
Carolina A. Miranda
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).

More on that piece here.

Carolina A. Miranda
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.'
Carolina A. Miranda
And here's what I looked like once I'd been through the show.

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About Gallerina

Carolina A. Miranda is a regular contributor to WNYC and blogs about the arts for the station as "Gallerina." In addition to that, she contributes articles on culture, travel and the arts to a variety of national and regional media, including Time, ArtNews, Travel + Leisure and Budget Travel and Florida Travel + Life. She has reported on the burgeoning industry of skatepark design, architectural pedagogy in Southern California, the presence of street art in museums and Lima's burgeoning food scene, among many other subjects. In 2008, she was named one of eight fellows in the USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program for her arts and architecture blog C-Monster.net, which has received mentions in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. In January of 2010, the Times named her one of nine people to follow on Twitter. Got a tip? E-mail her at c [@] c-monster [dot] net

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