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Travel Tip: Art and Archaeology in Austria
Maurizio Cattelan

Maurizio Cattelan
BREGENZ  •  Kunsthaus Bregenz  •  Ongoing

Pope John Paul II felled by a meteorite as if by the hand of God (La Nona Ora, 1999), a miniature model of the artist in a Beuysian felt suit, hanging helplessly from a clothes rack (La Rivoluzione Siamo Noi, 2000), or the artist breaking into the temple of art through the museum floor (Untitled, 2001) – Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, in a mixture of Don Camillo, Pinocchio and court jester, always carries his pictorial statements to extremes so that the realistic depiction of well-practiced social and art world conventions tips over into the absurd and ridiculous. Rather theatrical and ephemeral in his actions, objects, and installations, but deploying ironic sophistication and unexpected turns, the artist spares no taboo in unmasking deceitfulness.

Born in 1960 in the North Italian university town of Padua, he started his career in the eighties creating anti-functional design objects before deciding to work in the art world, which, in his own words, he found “much more appealing.”

Since 1993 when Maurizio Cattelan settled in New York, he has alternatingly lived and worked both there and in Milan. Not owning a studio, he works in situ, as exhibitions offer him exactly the challenge needed to “find” new works, which are subsequently fabricated by others rather than being made by the artist himself.

Cattelan: La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour), 1999

Maurizio Cattelan: La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour),1999
Mixed media
Installation: Apocalypse, Royal Academy, London
© Maurizio Cattelan
Photo courtesy of Kunsthaus Bregenz

Moreover, unlike Marcel Duchamp and assorted heirs, Cattelan does not relate the idea of the readymade to the selecting of found objects which are then declared as artworks, but views experienced reality in its irreconcilable, often absurd contradictions as a large readymade which he quarries for ideas. “We can find a philosophical idea through television, which we watch every day,” says Cattelan. He draws upon his own biography and links this to an Italian attitude to life that continually swings from banality to extreme devoutness and holy veneration. And he finds his subjects in the art world’s overheated mannerisms and rituals as much as in the social and political fractures of society.

Despite his diversity, Cattelan repeatedly centers on death as his central motif. According to Francesco Bonami, death is “the very last moment of pathetic intimacy, the most radical way to avoid public responsibility.” Death is also the major subject of the exhibition at Kunsthaus Bregenz.

Maurizio Cattelan

Maurizio Cattelan: Untitled, 2001
Wax figure, fabric
Figure: 150 cm
Hole: 60 x 40 cm
Installation, Boijmans Museum, Rotterdam
Photo: Attilio Maranzano
Courtesy: Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
© Maurizio Cattelan
Photo courtesy of Kunsthaus Bregenz


Kunsthaus Bregenz Web Site

Contact: Kunsthaus Bregenz
6901 Bregenz
Tel: (43) 5574 48 59 4-0

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