Maurizio Cattelan born in 1960, celebrated his 60th birthday this week. He is the most irreverent and provocative Italian artist present in the panorama of contemporary art.
Cattelan is ironic and provocative. His works have a strong emotional charge that attracts and produces a spontaneous and intense curiosity. His works get the media and public opinion talking: from America, the gold cabinet stolen to Comedian.
Maurizio Cattelan’s career
The artist attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, in the eighties. He began his career in Forlì, following the trends of Conceptual Art.
In 1986 with a canvas marked by three gashes, in the manner of Lucio Fontana, he makes the “Z” of Zorro reappear. It will become the mark that he will affix to his works.
Already from the first works, the artist shows the pleasure in combining figurative sculpture with performance. He often includes “happening” events, provocative breaking actions that will be his very personal style, deserving the definition of a contemporary art critic “.. .one of the greatest post-Dadaist and post-Duchampian artists”.
The artist earns a strong response from the public and the art market with performances of a goliardic nature. In Milan, Cattelan sticks his gallery owner Massimo De Carlo to the wall with scotch tape and Emmanuel Perrotin, another gallery owner to spend a month disguised as a pink phallus.
Maurizio Cattelan works
A significant work in his career is Him, 2001. Maurizio Cattelan’s work is an ephebic sculpture of Hitler on his knees. The dictator is a symbol of the horror of the 1900s. In particular, he seems to be in prayer in the act of apologizing. Maurizio is in fact an attentive student of the past’s themes, transforming history into a puppet theater.
Cattelan’s best-known work, La Nona Ora is a sculpture in latex, wax, fabric, leather shoes, and silver crosier. It depicts Pope John Paul II crushed to the ground by a large meteorite and surrounded by broken glass.
After being at the center of much controversy, La Nona Ora, (The Ninth Hour) was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London and in Warsaw. After Christiès sold it in 2001 for a record of $ 886,000.
Another interesting work is America, 2016. In particular, the sculpture is a toilet bowl of 103 kg of 18 karat gold, fully functional. The work is surely a perfect example of satirical relational art. The toilet was stolen from Blenheim Palace in Oxford, where it was exhibited, but the work is part of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum collection in New York. The artist himself refused to provide an interpretation of his work.
Cattelan’s famous banana
In 2019, the “Comedian” exhibition represented by a simple banana (real) glued to the wall with adhesive tape caused a worldwide excitement. This was the artist’s umpteenth provocation, of course. However, the surprising thing is that this work was sold to a buyer for the insane sum of 120,000 dollars!
In addition to the already exceptional fact, there was an even more surprising episode involving the artist David Datuna. The famous “banana” in fact was eaten at Art Basel in Miami Beach! With this expensive snack, Datuna ground on his Instagram profile 500 thousand views and the fame of “Hungry Artist.”