Self-taught Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan is best known for his controversial sculpture and performance work. Born in 1960, he has a flippant approach to his art practice, which almost always employs wit and humour with dark undertones. His most recognised piece is probably 'La Nona Ora' (1999), a life size sculpture of Pope John Paul II being struck down by a meteorite; a humorous piece with deep associations to religion and its status in the world.
The edition shown here was commissioned exclusively by Eyestorm in 1999. The original photograph was shot in 1998, outside the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Cattelan made a caricature of Pablo Picasso in the manner of Walt Disney, with a striped T-shirt and sandals and instructed an actor wearing this outfit to welcome the public at the museum’s entrance. Known for criticising the desire for fame and fortune in the contemporary art world, Cattelan said that the most incredible thing about the performance was that the MOMA accepted it, despite the fact that it was making a statement about the drift of American museums into excessive marketing. The public, coming to see an exhibition of Jackson Pollock, understood his concept so well that they thought it was Pollock himself welcoming them, therefore improving a piece by misunderstanding it!
Other well known works by Cattelan include 'Him' (2001), a life-sized sculpture of Hitler as a small boy, kneeling with his hands clasped together as if in prayer - a figure of fear in a vulnerable position. Another piece is 'Bidibidobidiboo' (1996), a taxidermied squirrel lying over a miniature table with a miniature gun on the floor as if it committed suicide. Again, although there is an initial element of humour, the work is part of a wider tragic message.