Maurizio Cattelan launches Toilet Paper magazine with photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari in January this year.
One of Italy’s most talked about contemporary artists - and on whom I have an enormous crush - has on November 4th announced his retirement during the launch of his retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York. According to Cattalan, it is his first and last retrospective of his life oeuvre.
Some say it is one of his publicity ploys to create buzz, and many question whether all the attention is merited. But, to know him is to laugh with him. He teases the art world without taking even himself seriously, knowing he is mocking something of which he is a part of.
So he peoples his art with characters in a theater of the absurd: animals, children, police officers, swamis, popes, all of them caught between the absurdity of our beliefs and acceptance of what is. It is prank-like, simulating "reality" while breaking all the rules.
For this Cattalan combines sculpture and performance as recipe for irony. He has pushed the envelope on the contemporary art world poking fun at it with sarcasm and a not so subtle transgression as he discards moral and ideological standards.
I suppose one could say he is of the world but not in it, as one might deduce as he ruefully points out the incongruities while offering no judgement or criteria. A not so innocent by-stander. He does not move to fix or change it, but simply sits with it grinning.
Cattalan quips "I tend not to work with a specific person in mind. Art is a matter of statistics, It's not about individuals. It's about people."
"I was a loser, most concerned with making a living. It took me 30 years to understand that if I was a failure it wasn't my fault. I had to reinvent a system, find a way out, and set some rules that could work for me and a few others. I guess in the end that's what we all are trying to do."
For a side show of his work.
And for an amazing video of his Guggenheim Retrospective, All.
Cattalan, Art Dealer, 1999