Maurizio Cattelan

Maurizio Cattelan

Maurizio Cattelan (September 21, 1960, Padova, Italy) is an Italian artist based in New York. He is known for his satirical sculptures, particularly La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour), depicting the Pope John Paul II struck down by a meteorite.


Early life

Cattelan started his career in Forlì (Italy) making wooden furniture in the eighties where he came to know some designers like Ettore Sottsass.

He made a catalogue of his work which he sent to galleries. This promotion gave him an opening in design and contemporary art. He created a sculpture of an ostrich with its head buried in the ground, wore a costume of a figurine with a giant head of Picasso, and affixed a Milanese gallerist to a wall with tape. During this period, he also created the Oblomov Foundation. In 2009, he teamed up with Italian photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari to create an editorial for W Magazine's Art Issue. Subsequently, both started the magazine "Toilet Paper" [1], a bi-annual, picture-based publication.[1]

Artistic style

Cattelan’s personal art practice has led to him gaining a reputation as an art scene’s joker.[2] In 1995 he began his line of taxidermied horses, donkeys, mice and dogs; in 1999 he started making life-size wax effigies of various people, including himself.[3] One of his best known sculptures, ‘La Nona Ora’ consists of an effigy of Pope John Paul II in full ceremonial dress being crushed by a meteor and is a good example of his typically humorous approach to work. Another of Cattelan’s quirks is his use of a ‘stand-in’ in media interviews equipped with a stock of evasive answers and non-sensical explanations.

Between 2005 and 2010 his work has largely centered on publishing and curating. Earlier projects in these fields have included the founding of “The Wrong Gallery”, a store window in New York City[2], in 2002 and its subsequent display within the collection of the Tate Modern from 2005 to 2007; collaborations on the publications Permanent Food, 1996– 2007, and the slightly satirical arts journal "Charley", 2002–present (the former an occasional journal comprising a pastiche of pages torn from other magazines, the latter a series on contemporary artists); and the curating of the Caribbean Biennial in 1999.[4] Along with long-term collaborators Ali Subotnick and Massimiliano Gioni, Cattelan also curated the 2006 Berlin Biennale [3]. He frequently submitted articles to international publications such as Flash Art [4].

Cattelan’s art makes fun of various systems of order – be it social niceties or his regular digs at the art world – and he often utilises themes and motifs from art of the past and other cultural sectors in order to get his point across. Cattelan saw no reason why contemporary art should be excluded from the critical spotlight it shines on other areas of life and his work seeks to highlight the incongruous nature of the world and our interventions within it no matter where they may lie. His work was often based on simple puns or subverts clichéd situations by, for example, substituting animals for people in sculptural tableaux. Frequently morbidly fascinating, Cattelan’s dark humour sets his work above the simple pleasures of well-made visual one-liners.[5]

He has been described by Jonathan P. Binstock, curator of contemporary art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art "as one of the great post-Duchampian artists and a smartass, too".[6]


  • One of his most famous artworks is a sculpture of Pope John Paul II hit by a meteorite, titled La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour), made in 1999. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London as part of the prestigious Apocalypse show, and was sold at Christie's for $3 million.
  • Working Is a Bad Job (1993): At the 1993 Venice Biennale he lease his allotted space to an advertising agency, which installed a billboard promoting a new perfume.[7]
  • Another Fucking Readymade (1996): For an exhibition at the de Appel Arts Center in Amsterdam, he stole the entire contents of another artist’s show from a nearby gallery with the idea of passing it off as his own work, until the police insisted he return the loot on threat of arrest.[8]
  • For Errotin, le vrai Lapin (1995), he persuaded his gallerist Emmanuel Perrotin to wear a giant pink rabbit costume shaped like a phallus to Cattelan's gallery opening[9]
  • turisti (Tourists) (1997), taxidermied pigeons and fake pigeon shit exhibited in the Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of 1997[10]
  • In 1997, at the Consortium in Dijon, Cattelan dug a coffin-shaped hole in the floor of the museum's main gallery to acknowledge his own frailty in the face of having to mount a museum show.[11]
  • Untitled, 2001 (2001), installation created for the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam that depicts the artist peering mischievously from a hole in the floor at a gallery of 17th-century Dutch masters.[12]
  • As part of the 2001 Venice Biennale, he erected a full sized HOLLYWOOD sign over the largest rubbish tip on Palermo, Sicily.
  • L.O.V.E (2011), a 36-foot white marble sculpture middle finger sticking straight up from an otherwise fingerless hand, pointing away from Milan's stock market[13]
  • Turisti, his new work for the 2011 Venice Biennale made up of 2,000 embalmed pigeons.


Cattelan's work has been on view in numerous solo exhibitions, at the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich; Artpace, San Antonio, Texas; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Kunsthalle Basel, Basel; Project 65 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; as well as at Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Le Consortium, Dijon; and Wiener Secession, Vienna. A major retrospective, assembling 130 objects of Cattelan's career since 1989, opened in 2011 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Cattelan has also exhibited at Skulptur Projekte Münster (1997), the Tate Gallery, London (1999), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2003) and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2003), and participated in the Venice Biennale (1993, 1997, 1999, and 2002), Manifesta 2 (1998), Luxembourg, Melbourne International Biennial 1999, and the 2004 Whitney Biennial [5] in New York.[14] In 2004, Cattelan exhibited the controversial sculpture Untitled featuring 3 hanging kids for the Nicola Trussardi Foundation.

He is represented by Emmanuel Perrotin [6] in Paris, Massimo de Carlo [7] in Milan and Marian Goodman Gallery in New York [8].


Cattelan was a finalist for the Guggenheim's Hugo Boss Prize in 2000, received an honorary degree in Sociology from the University of Trento, Italy, in 2004, and was also awarded the Arnold-Bode prize from the Kunstverein Kassel, Germany, that same year.[15] A career prize (a gold medal) was awarded to Maurizio Cattelan by the 15th Rome Quadriennale.[16] On 24 March 2009, at the MAXXI Museum of Rome,[17] the singer Elio[18] of the Elio e le Storie Tese, who announced that he was the real Cattelan, came to receive the prize, making witty remarks and answering questions from the public.[19]

Art market

In 2004, one of Cattelan's best-known older pieces, a suspended, taxidermised horse titled The Ballad of Trotsky, was sold to Bernard Arnault in New York for $2.1m (£1.15m).[20] Par Peur de l'Amour, a sculpture of an elephant in a Ku Klux Klan uniform, sold at Christie's in 2004 for $2.7 million.



  1. ^ Maria Lokke (November 18, 2011), Maurizio Cattelan’s Toilet Paper The New Yorker.
  2. ^ WORTH, ALEXI. "A Fine Italian Hand." New York Times Magazine (2010): 68. Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.
  3. ^ Roberta Smith (November 3, 2011), A Suspension of Willful Disbelief New York Times.
  4. ^ Maurizio Cattelan, February 12 – August 15, 2010 Menil Collection, Houston.
  5. ^ CAROL, VOGEL. "Don't Get Angry. He's Kidding. Seriously." New York Times 13 May 2002: 1. Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.
  6. ^ A Head of His Time: Exploring the commodious nature of art, Gene Weingarten, reprint at Jewish World Review, Jan 21, 2005
  7. ^ Maurizio Cattelan: All, November 4, 2011 – January 22, 2012 Guggenheim Museum, New York.
  8. ^ Maurizio Cattelan: All, November 4, 2011 – January 22, 2012 Guggenheim Museum, New York.
  9. ^ Maurizio Cattelan Guggenheim Collection.
  10. ^ Maurizio Cattelan, turisti, 1997 Christie's, 9 February 2005, London.
  11. ^ Maurizio Cattelan, Una Domenica a Rivara (A Sunday in Rivara), 1992 Phillips de Pury & Company, London.
  12. ^ Maurizio Cattelan: All, November 4, 2011 – January 22, 2012 Guggenheim Museum, New York.
  13. ^ At Milan's Bourse, Finger Pointing Has Business Leaders Up in Arms Wall Street Journal.
  14. ^ Maurizio Cattelan Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.
  15. ^ Maurizio Cattelan Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.
  16. ^ Cattelan Wins Career Award from Quadriennale di Roma «Artinfo» 27 March 2009. URL referred on 31 May 2009.
  17. ^ (Italian) Maurizio Cattelan conquista la XV Quadriennale d'arte di Roma. «Libero»/«adnkronos». 24 March 2009. URL referred at «» on May 31, 2009..
  18. ^ (Italian) Premio a Cattelan, ma si presenta Elio «Il Tempo», 25 March 2009. URL referred at «» on 31 May 2009.
  19. ^ (Italian) Cattelan receive the prize at MAXXI, Rome. (swf). 24 March 2009. Video at Rome Quadriennale website. URL referred on 31 May 2009..
  20. ^ John Hooper (19 July 2005), Former lover accuses Cattelan of stealing her ideas The Guardian.

External links

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