Maurizio Cattelan is active/lives in Italy. Maurizio Cattelan is known for mixed-media metaphorical objects-humor and satire.
Biography from the Archives of askART
A self-taught artist assertive of 'bad aesthetic taste', Maurizio
Cattelan creates work underpinned by humor with "slight shifts of
reality" and a teasing of the art world "without ever falling into the
naive trap of thinking he can subvert a system of which he is
part." For instance, at his urging, Emmanuel Perrotin, his
gallery representative in Paris, dressed for a month as a gigantic pink
Biography from Sotheby's Doha
Cattelan was born in Padua, Italy and works from a studio in
Milan. In 1998, coinciding with a Jackson Pollock exhibition at
the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Cattelan, with the Museum's
permission, hired an actor to greet visitors in a Picasso look-alike
mask. The underlying idea was to create a Walt-Disney type
character, which many visitors assumed was a 'pretend' Pollock.
Another 'spoof', one which characteristically walked a fine line
between vulgar and humor, was a 1999 London gallery exhibition where
the main feature was a black marble slab that was a copy of Maya Lin's
Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. However, instead of the names
of people who had lost their lives, it was a "neatly engraved" listing
of scores of all the defeats suffered by the national football team of
In fact, the Vietnam War and football are recurring themes. In
his paintings, he features his own football team, "A.C. Forniture Sud",
which in English translation is A.C. Furniture Supplies.
Maurizio Cattelan has been one of the most inventive and consistently
surprising artists working on the international scene since the late
1980s, producing an extraordinarily diverse body of work that is
characterized by an occasionally morbid wit and a brutally acerbic sense
of satire. Brilliantly innovative, Cattelan forces us to question the
way in which we view the world around us, utilizing taxidermied animals,
plastic mannequins and skeletal constructions as well as more
traditional media such as photography, drawing and sculpture to express
his ironical and unconventional artistic language.
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debatably be regarded as an 'anti-artist,' subverting the accepted
methods and ideals behind the creation of more traditional art: "I am
not an artist. I really don't consider myself an artist." (The artist
cited in an interview with Nancy Spector in: Francesco Bonami, Nancy
Spector, Barbara Vanderlinden, Maurizio Cattelan, London 2000,
Born in 1960 in Padua, Cattelan's youth coincided with a time of
political and social upheaval within Italy: this spirit of insurgence
and the potential for change seems to infuse the artist's work,
imbuing his works with a sense of rebellion against sociological,
cultural and political norms. As a result, Cattelan's individual
installations, varied as they are, can be interpreted not only as the
work of a brilliantly provocative creative force whose work consistently
challenges accepted boundaries and transcends the more familiar
concepts of art history, but also arguably as a profound examination of
the definition of 'normality' itself.
Andreas e Mattia, produced in 1996, masterfully encapsulates
the crucial concerns of Cattelan's artistic practice. On first glance, a
figure - seemingly bearing the appearance of a flesh and blood, living
and breathing human being - huddles pathetically in a corner, as though
seeking protection from a potentially hostile world. Yet close
inspection reveals that the 'person' is, in fact, a stuffed mannequin,
made up of cloth and fabric. Torn clothing and frayed denim reveal that
the model is that of a homeless man, posed with verisimilitude that
manages to be both disturbing and moving in equal measure.
recalled the creation of a similar work, part of the same 'series' as Andreas e Mattia,
noting that a 'story' behind each piece was of immense importance: "I
like all the little stories behind the work. They make it more alive… In
1998 I did a project on the campus of the University of Wisconsin,
Milwaukee, for its institute of visual arts. The project engendered a
long story, almost a novel… I decided to build a sculpture out of rags
and old clothes; it was an effigy of a homeless man - Kenneth
(1998). I left the poor guy near one of the campus buildings. The next
morning it turns out that someone had stuck a sign on my sculpture,
complaining about the tuition increase at the university. The homeless
had become a kind of symbol in a struggle I knew nothing about." (The
artist cited in: Ibid., p. 13).
Andreas e Mattia can thus be regarded as an unwitting element of a greater whole; part of a fable of universal significance.
Andreas raises probing questions about the nature of
humanity and the concept of freedom with its brave depiction of
vagrancy. Through the creation of this work and its companions, Cattelan
attempted to quantify what he himself considered to be the so called
'liberty' of the homeless, able to wander at will around the city, free
from the 'strictures' of home ownership and career path; on one occasion
he shadowed a beggar in order to gain some knowledge of their urban
lifestyle. The dejected stance of the figure seems indicative of
callowness and lack of sympathy encountered on city streets, turning
away from passer-by as though unwilling to encounter further rejection.
Instead, a noble pride remains, encouraging self-sufficiency as a means
Yet Cattelan recalls that when exhibited in Italy, Andreas e Mattia
also aroused concern within onlookers who believed in the unnervingly
realistic air of the piece: "Some people were upset and called the
police to complain that no one was taking care of this poor, old person
on the street. So they went to check on his condition and started
shaking him, saying, 'Hey, hey, wake up. It's time to go.' " (The artist
cited in: Ibid, p. 13).
Instinctive human kindness is celebrated by
extension: although the viewers are ultimately the victims of a
practical joke, positive aspects of character and personality are drawn
out by the presence of Andreas e Mattia on the street. Diana
Kamin reinforces this idea whilst arguing for another layer of meaning
to be read into the sculpture, going so far as to declare these works
"avatars" that reflect the attitudes encountered by struggling artists:
"The reappearance of the tramp in Cattelan's work… suggests that the
homeless are among the cast of characters that Cattelan uses to act out
the narrative of the artist in society: anonymous peripatetic fixtures
who are ignored until successful." (Diana Kamin in: Exhibition
Catalogue, New York, Salomon R.Guggenheim Museum, Maurizio Cattelan: All, 2011-2012, p. 207).
These multi-faceted aspects of symbolism contribute to the immense importance of Andreas e Mattia within Cattelan's oeuvre: quietly commanding and intensely emotive, Andreas e Mattia is truly a work of outstanding power and authority.
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