Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Maurizio Cattelan" - "ALL" at the Guggenheim Museum NYC

Maurizio Cattelan, Guggenheim, NYC, 2011.
One of the beautiful problems with seeing an exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, is that the exquisite architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright always competes with the artwork on display. In the current show by Maurizio Cattelan, finally an artist has used the space to full advantage.

Best known for his provocative work "La Nona Ora" depicting a fallen Pope, struck by a meteorite, this installation consisting of practically his entire oeuvre is no less controversial. While his Pope piece cost a museum director her job in Warsaw, (John Paul was Polish after all - oh the blasphemy!), this complicated installation certainly must have challenged some of the best engineers in Manhattan.

Maurizio Cattelan, Guggenheim, NYC, 2011.
Known famously as an art-world prankster, Cattelan has created a true retrospective in this, his swan song, by suspending 128 of his most famous works from the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum! (Supposedly, only two pieces are absent here, wherein private collectors declined to participate in the exhibition.) And while this would be a feat on any account, with the work of most artists, here it is even more confounded as Cattelan's work consists of some rather large and heavy looking sculpture.

Maurizio Cattelan, Guggenheim, NYC, 2011.
How does one suspend carved marble, huge billboards, major appliances, an oversized skeleton of a cat, and more than a few taxidermied  barn-yard animals to create an awe inspiring mobile of a 20 year career? Vary carefully and strategically, I hope, and I was sure not to lollygag as I passed under the work.
Maurizio Cattelan, Guggenheim, NYC, 2011.
Taken as a body of work, as well as a completely new sculpture considering the intermingling of the works, the installation can only be described as impressive. A giant olive tree with an enormous cube of earth floats threateningly above  meandering viewers in the Guggenheim's atrium below.

For those familiar with Cattelan's work, the Italian born Chelsea resident is known for pushing the boundaries of art. Floating behind the tree is an advertisement from a perfume campaign. For a previous show, Cattelan sold his gallery space to a marketing firm who filled it with a promotional billboard. He has also taped gallery owners to walls and had them pose as his subjects in bizarre costumes. No stranger to scandal, he's been known to brick over the entrance to galleries, and even started his own gallery in NYC called, appropriately WRONG Gallery, which frequently displayed absolutely nothing.

Maurizio Cattelan, Guggenheim, NYC, 2011.
According to legend, an early job in a morgue, stirred his interest in death, and taxidermy is a reoccurring theme. Above, a baby elephant peeks out from under a sheet, which is cute enough, until one recognizes the Klu Klux Klan references.

Maurizio Cattelan, Guggenheim, NYC, 2011.
A child-like Hitler, is perhaps a little more obvious, but still tongue-in-cheek. Is his figure asking for forgiveness or is the artist merely having some fun at the art-world's expense?
Maurizio Cattelan, Guggenheim, NYC, 2011.
Apparently nothing, or no one is sacred. Picasso appears repeatedly, always with an inflated head. Above, he peers from behind a dinasaur-sized skeleton of a cat, something one might expect to see at the Natural History Museum, from the canvas of a Lichenstein, combing countless eras of art history into one jumbled narrative.

Maurizio Cattelan, Guggenheim, NYC, 2011.
And yet, somehow it all makes perfect sense. Out of the cacophony of the modern art milieu, comes a perfectly balanced and orchestrated harmony. Even a life-like old lady in a refrigerator seems at ease, floating near a stuffed donkey or a body bag carved from carrera marble.

Maurizio Cattelan, Guggenheim, NYC, 2011.
Cattelan, himself, appears in many of the pieces, be it as a wax dummy, a tiny portrait, or in taking another jab at the world in which he has enjoyed sizable success, (seen above,) on his back with hands and feet in the air, tongue wagging, an obsequious 'dog' willing to please the establishment, while mocking it.

The artist claims that this will be his last show, that he is retiring from the art work. And as such, his collection of works do look as though they are ready to be shipped off to anxiously awaiting museums and collectors, frantic to own what is now very limited edition. Though judging from the critical acclaim this Guggenheim show is receiving, it is hard to imagine that at only 51, (young in the art world,) that we have heard the last from this artist.

Maurizio Cattelan, Guggenheim, NYC, 2011.
Starring at the blank walls of the Guggenheim - all of the walls were left bare, with the entire focus of the show being the suspended installation - brings to mind several of his other gallery shows, including the one where he simply locked the door to an empty gallery and posted a sign on reading "Torno Subito" or "Be Back Soon" (this piece is included here as well, dangling from the rafters).  I, for one, am hoping that indeed Cattelan will be back soon, and this is not "All" as the title threatens.

Alton DuLaney, Maruisio Catellan Show, Guggenheim, NYC, 2011.
The exhibit runs through January 22, 2012, at the Guggenheim, 5th Avenue at 89th Street, NYC.
http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/exhibitions/on-view/maurizio-cattelan-all

2 comments:

  1. Wow. I think this must rank as one of the "must see" shows of the decade; quite an edgy installation and remarkable retrospective of his work! Thats rad that you got to see it in person.... awesome photos! Thanks for sharing!!!

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