Contemporary Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan is known for his witty embrace of semantic shifts that result from imaginative plays with materials, objects, and actions. In his work, contradictions in the space between what the artist describes as softness and perversity wage a sarcastic critique on political power structures, from notions of nationalism or the authorities of organized religion to the conceit of the museum and art history. Like the traditions established by Dada and Surrealism, his uncanny juxtapositions uproot stable understandings of the world around us. For Cattelan even the banal is absurd. As he has said, “Comedians manipulate and make fun of reality. Whereas I actually think that reality is far more provocative than my art.”
Maurizio Cattelan was born in Padua in 1960. He has had solo exhibitions in the most distinguished museums worldwide such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Other recent presentations of his work include exhibitions at the Ludwig Museum in Koln, Germany and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. He will present his work at the Musée du Louvre in Paris in October 2004. Cattelan has participated in five editions of the Venice Biennale as well as in many other collective exhibitions such as the Whitney Biennial, Manifesta and "Apocalypse" at the Royal Academy in London.
Italian sculptor Maurizio Cattelan interprets contemporary issues of power, death, and authority in artworks which border on the absurd. The emotional responses that his performances and installations elicit are made possible by the sensitive political, religious, and cultural allusions he appropriates as subject matter. In his subversion of propriety, Cattelan’s works often implicate the art world through a critique of its own institutions.
When one asks why, Cattelan asks: why not? “My aim is to be as open and as incomprehensible as possible,” he explains to Sophie Arie, “There has to be a perfect balance between open and shut.” This balance is the paradoxical tragicomedy of Cattelan’s works, a mordant reflection of contemporary society.