Shout Magazine

Mark Kostabi on Maurizio Cattelan

Maurizio Cattelan is considered the best living Italian artist, according to art critics surveyed by Flash Art (Italian edition), when they compiled their top 100 in March 1999. Now, exactly one year later, at the Marian Goodman Gallery, New Yorkers can see for themselves what the fuss is all about.

One of my favorite Flash Art covers ever was of a Maurizio Cattelan work featuring a startlingly unforgettable image of a stripe-shirted Picasso with a giant head, and outstretched arms, greeting the viewer in front of a large, graphically powerful Liechtenstein interior (pictured). Cattelan hired a professional actor to wear the giant head-sculpture and interact with the public in the Museum of Modern Art. The giant Picasso man begged for change, posed for photos with tourists (like Mickey Mouse in Disneyland) and took a nap.

A formidable disciple of Duchamp and Warhol, Maurizio Cattelan, claiming to have no studio, is a conceptual artist, installation artist, sculptor and comedic provocateur. If I were to make up things about Maurizio’s past or describe works that never existed as being by him, it would be in keeping with his sensibility: Once he copied an interview by another artist, word for word, only substituting his name. Another time he was on deadline for a show, again lacking work, he reported a theft of an invisible sculpture from his car and the police believed him.

Also known for exhibiting barking birds, suicidal squirrels, live donkeys with chandeliers and stuffed horses dangling from ceilings, Maurizio Cattelan is perhaps best known for his element of surprise, so who knows what we will discover at the Marian Goodman Gallery, through March 25th.

March 2000