You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.
Maurizio Cattelan
Italian artist
Media
Print

Maurizio Cattelan

Italian artist

Maurizio Cattelan, (born January 6, 1960, Padua, Italy), Italian conceptual artist known for his subversive prankish displays.

A self-taught artist, Cattelan began his career designing furniture but turned to sculpture and conceptual art in the early 1990s and quickly garnered a reputation for a sense of humour and a penchant for blurring the distinction between art and reality. He described himself as a “lazy” artist and told The Guardian newspaper that “I don’t do anything.” Some of his actions backed up the latter claim. In 1992, for example, he assembled a group of donors to award him a $10,000 grant that stipulated that he not exhibit any artwork for one year. At the 1993 Venice Biennale, he made a statement (and a profit) by subletting his exhibit space to a perfume company. At an exhibition in Turin, Italy, he knotted bedsheets together and hung them out a window, giving the impression that he had left the building.

In truth, however, Cattelan did plenty of creating. In 1999 he exhibited La nona ora, which depicted Pope John Paul II having just been struck by a meteorite. That same year, at a London gallery, he displayed a miniature replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, located in Washington, D.C., that had engraved on it the score of every football (soccer) match lost by the English national team. His commemoration of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, Frankie and Jamie (2002), showed two wax figures of New York police officers standing upside down.

Cattelan’s 2011 retrospective at New York City’s Guggenheim Museum, where the artist suspended his work from the centre of the building’s iconic rotunda, opened to mixed reviews but nonetheless confirmed his place in the contemporary art world—as did the fact that his work often commanded millions at auction. Some, however, still questioned whether Cattelan was a legitimate artist or just a con man, and that issue pervades the documentary Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back (2016).

Get unlimited access to all of Britannica’s trusted content. Subscribe Today

Despite causing much controversy with his satiric critique of the art world and of society in general, Cattelan deftly managed—for the most part—to enthrall rather than enrage his audience and his peers. Indeed, his America sculpture, a functioning solid-gold toilet, which was installed in a restroom at the Guggenheim from 2016 to 2017, drew long lines from good-humoured visitors and caused a social media frenzy. The artwork, estimated to be worth more than $4 million, was later stolen from a restroom at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England, while on exhibition in 2019.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Alicja Zelazko, Assistant Editor.
Your preference has been recorded
What were the year’s biggest stories?
Year In Review 2019
乐彩网 临海市 湖北省 钟祥市 大同市 兰溪市 湘潭市 松滋市 铁力市 彭州市 厦门市 宜春市 邹城市 彭州市 山东省 金昌市 平度市 海南省 双滦区 忻州市 葫芦岛市 十堰市 平度市 潞城市 临沂市 阜新市 普兰店市 汉川市 兴城市 都匀市 枣庄市 安达市 烟台市 高邮市 梅河口市 江油市 白银市 丰城市 孝义市 石首市 池州市 葫芦岛市 福建省 金华市 梅河口市 胶州市 上虞市 大石桥市 江阴市 吉首市 大庆市 铁力市 深州市 山西省 厦门市 项城市 永州市 原平市 明光市 耒阳市