Maurizio Cattelan is an Italian artist who came to international prominence in the mid 1980s. His work is characterized by its iconoclastic attitude and is also recognized as one of the most innovative arts experiences between the two millennia. Maurizio Cattelan was born on September 21st, 1960 in Padova to a working-class family. Early in his life he worked as a gardener and sacred images seller, before becoming a clerk in a morgue. He abandoned his intermittent employment history in 1985 to fully devote himself to art, presenting his first work to the public in 1989. Since the dawn of his art career, Cattelan has drawn from images and situations found in reality. Open to interpretation and contradictions, his work claims that doubt is the central element of the contemporary existential condition. Cattelan immediately called into question the system of the art world. He was invited to the Biennale of Venice, where he sold the space dedicated to himself to an advertising agency and during the opening of his personal show he hung his gallerist to the wall with tape.
His work “Him”, resembles a child in prayer but reveals that child has having the face of Hitler. In “La Nona Ora” he depicts Pope John Paul II getting hit by a meteorite. Cattelan was an agitator even outside the context of art: in Milan he created scandal by hanging children to an oak tree which was removed the day after by an upset citizen and a marble sculpture installed in front of the Italian Stock Echange in Milan depicting an hand with all of its fingers severed, except the middle one. From 2011 to 2012, the Guggenheim in New York dedicated a comprehensive retrospective to his work. Cattelan used the occasion to announce his retirement from the art world, excluding his work as a publisher, gallery owner and curator. Cattelan’s future is just as unpredictable as the artist himself.
M. Cattelan, All, catalogo della mostra, Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 4 novembre 2011 – 22 gennaio 2012 (Milano: Skira, 2011) F. Bonami, Maurizio Cattelan. Autobiografia non autorizzata (Milano: Mondadori, 2011) F. Bonami, N. Spector, B. Vanderlinde