Maurizio Cattelan America: New Site-specific Work Unveiled At Guggenheim NY

Maurizio Cattelan

Maurizio Cattelan’s new, site-specific work opens to the public at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum today September 16, 2016. For “America”, the artist replaces a toilet in one of the museum’s public restrooms with a fully functional replica cast in solid gold. Cattelan is often described as the art world’s resident prankster and provocateur; this installation is the first artwork he has produced since his 2011–12 Guggenheim retrospective, Maurizio Cattelan: All, which initiated the artist’s self-imposed exile. 

The new work makes available to the public an extravagant luxury product seemingly intended for the 1 percent. Its participatory nature, in which viewers are invited to make use of the fixture individually and privately, allows for an experience of unprecedented intimacy with an artwork. Cattelan’s toilet offers a wink to the excesses of the art market, but also evokes the American dream of opportunity for all, its utility ultimately reminding us of the inescapable physical realities of our shared humanity. 

The Italian/American artist Maurizio Cattelan has often been described as the art world’s resident prankster and provocateur. He now emerges from a five-year hiatus with a new, site-specific work that will be installed at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on a date to be announced. For Maurizio Cattelan: “America” the artist replaces a toilet in one of the museum’s public restrooms with a fully functional replica cast in solid gold. The installation is the first artwork Cattelan has produced since his 2011–12 Guggenheim retrospective,Maurizio Cattelan: All, which initiated the artist’s self-imposed exile.

As an art historical gesture, “America” references Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917), a urinal presented as sculptural readymade. Created nearly a century after Duchamp’s seminal work, Cattelan’s installation may be understood as countering the artistic transgression of Fountain by restoring the utility of their shared subject. “America” also alludes to Piero Manzoni’s examination of creative labor and value in the series Artist’s Shit(1961), in which Manzoni allegedly canned his own excrement and sold each container at a price equal to its weight in gold.

On the occasion of this new installation, the Guggenheim is producing a revised edition of the catalogue Maurizio Cattelan: All. Originally published to accompany Cattelan’s 2011–12 retrospective at the museum, the catalogue has become the definitive source on his work. This new volume, which will be distinguished by a reworked cover design and will include images of the All installation and a revised Coda by Nancy Spector, will be released in fall 2016.

Although,according to a New York Times report, “serious technical issues are holding up production.” No new opening date has been set, and a spokesperson for the museum told the Times: “It’s not days, but I can’t be more specific than that right now.” The solid-gold toilet is a working replica of one made by Wisconsin-based manufacturer Kohler, but Cattelan’s team reportedly encountered technical difficulties while trying to make the solid-gold dream a reality.

“To the museum’s knowledge, this kind of casting process has never been done before,” the museum spokeswoman said. The Guggenheim insists that it’s not a joke by the mischievous Italian prankster, who puts out a magazine called Toilet Paper, and whose project at Frieze New York this year features a live donkey.

Maurizio Cattelan (b. 1960, Padua, Italy), lives and works in New York and Milan. Unafraid to tackle taboo subject matter in visually seductive presentations, Cattelan has created some of the most unforgettable images in recent contemporary art. The first retrospective of the artist’s work, Maurizio Cattelan: All, was organized by the Guggenheim Museum and was on view from November 2011 to January 2012. It featured 130 works—examples of virtually everything the artist had produced since 1989—and presented them en masse, strung seemingly haphazardly from the oculus of the museum’s rotunda. Other solo exhibitions of Cattelan’s work have been organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2000); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2001); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2001–03); P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1), New York (2002); Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (2003); Musée du Louvre, Paris (2004); Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2008); The Menil Collection, Houston (2010); and Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2013). His work has also been featured in such exhibitions as the Venice Biennale (1993, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2003, and 2011), SITE Santa Fe (1997), Manifesta 2 (1998), Istanbul Biennial (1998), Kunsthalle Basel (1999), Whitney Biennial (2004), and theanyspacewhatever at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2008).

Related: Maurizio Cattelan Creates Solid Gold Toilet For the Guggenheim Hailed simultaneously as a provocateur, prankster, and tragic poet of our times, Maurizio Cattelan has created some of the most unforgettable images in recent contemporary art. His source materials range widely, from popular culture, history, and organized religion to a meditation on the self that is at once humorous and profound. Working in a vein that can be described as hyperrealist, Cattelan creates unsettlingly veristic sculptures that reveal contradictions at the core of today’s society. While bold and irreverent, the work is also deadly serious in its scathing critique of authority and the abuse of power. 


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