Magazine article Artforum International

"Maurizio Cattelan Is Dead": TRIPLE CANDIE

Magazine article Artforum International

"Maurizio Cattelan Is Dead": TRIPLE CANDIE

Article excerpt

"Maurizio Cattelan Is Dead: Life and Work, 1960-2009" was the most recent of a series of unauthorized homages organized by the Harlem gallery Triple Candie. In a general sense, these exhibitions investigate the ways in which an entity on the sidelines of the art world--one presumably without the right connections or very much money, and definitely without permission--might elbow its way toward the center or, at the very least, force a confrontation with art-world systems of status and access. More specifically, they seem to poke fun at certain key characteristics of the artists they present. Two previous shows covered, with a kind of reverence that was not immediately apparent in the cheekiness of the gesture, David Hammons and Cady Noland, both famously reclusive artists entirely unlikely to make work available for exhibitions such as these. Accordingly, these "retrospectives" featured small photocopies of images (for Hammons) and somewhat bastardized re-creations (for Noland). Despite the various unhappy reactions to the exhibitions--from dismay to censure to contempt--and despite the irresolvable nature of their central ethical question of whether it is always wrong to re-create without permission an artist's work, the shows were unexpectedly trenchant looks at what endures in the age of mechanical and digital reproduction.

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Cattelan may have been, at one point, elusive (it was rumored, before he became such a celebrity, that he would send friends in his stead for interviews), but by now he is omnipresent, his signature pieces so familiar--the pope struck down by a meteorite, Pinocchio drowned in a pool--that they have largely ceased to shock. His fictive death, therefore, may have been necessitated by his being an artist about whom we already know too much. He is eminently known as a prankster, a holy fool whose jokes reveal us to ourselves, and the echo here was that of the outrageous borrowings that he has engineered over the course of his career: In one extraordinary Duchampian gesture, Cattelan stole the entire contents of a gallery in Amsterdam, and presented them as his own (Another bucking Ready-made, 1996). (There are also echoes of the Wrong Gallery, dubbed the "back door to contemporary art," which he began in 2002 with Ali Subotnick and Massimiliano Gioni. …

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