Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"ALL" by Maurizio Cattelan at the Guggenheim: You Ain't Kidding





Photos by Tony Napoli 2012

At first glance, it seemed that this over-the-top retrospective exhibit of the work of Maurizio Cattelan included everything but the kitchen sink, but then, come to think of it, the diorama featuring the squirrel committing suicide at his kitchen table had one. Although the artist isn't the first to feature dramatic work hanging from the Guggenheim's famed aerie,  (I am thinking of Cai Guo-Qiang's Inopportune:Stage Two with multiple cars deconstructing as a result of a simulated car bombing hanging from the famed Frank Lloyd Wright designed rotunda in 2008) I would assume, given Mr. Cattelan's wit and originality, that no one has designed to hang all of the principal works of his or her oeuvre, from the ceiling, as so much laundry, a comparison that I believe the artist himself observed. 

Half expecting novelty, and having read some critiques that suggested that the exhibit does not present all of his work to its best advantage, I was looking forward, but didn't run right out to see it. We finally made it to the Museum at the very end of the year. In truth,  I loved it. The show's energy, dynamism, and, well, just plain craziness, combined to create something completely different. While I am not sure that the work of, say, Picasso, or a sculptor such as George Segal, would benefit from the Rotunda treatment, for Mr. Cattelan's work it suited just fine. There is a humor and absurdity to it all, not just the post-post-modern critique of art as art, or art as consumer good -- this is clearly art as Mr. Cattelan sees it. In the context of the Guggenheim, in the context of the art world, and the world at large, but also in the context of the Cattelan Multiverse: Forget the CERN reactor, there is presently enough energy in the Museum's Rotunda, along with thoughtful frowns and scratched chins, smirks, guffaws and explosive giggles, to generate the Higgs Boson. I am sure, now that he is retiring from the art world (or so he says), Mr. Cattelan could have a lot of fun with that.
The show runs through January 22, 2012

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum site for "All" here

Once again, the show runs through January 22, 2012. Speaking of which, the Museum will present the Last Word on 
Sat, Jan 22, 6 pm–1 am: Maurizio Cattelan is retiring (or so he has stated) from art-making with his current retrospective. To mark the end of the exhibition (and the beginning of retirement), twenty or so prominent artists, philosophers, writers, comedians, filmmakers, actors, musicians, and more will come together to contemplate the end. More than just some winter morbidity, this event tackles that most difficult moment: to decide when to stop one thing and begin another or to end it altogether. Less strenuous than a long distance event and much more than a quick sprint, this event will be a meditative seven hour jog around life's central park of pleasures, desires, and regrets. Co-organized by Simon Critchley (Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, The New School of Social Research), and Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and curator of Maurizio Cattelan: All. Admission: pay what you wish.

-Anthony Napoli - Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

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