Is Maurizio Cattelan Really Turning His Backside on Art?

At the 1993 Venice Biennale, Maurizio Cattelan rented out his space to an ad agency, an outrageous stunt even by contemporary art standards. Much more indecorous, a few years later he depicting Pope John Paul II prostrate after being struck down by a falling meteorite. You could say the Italian artist possesses a healthy disregard for authority—and those in authority can’t get enough. Bernard Arnault shelled out $2.1 million for a piece composed of a taxidermy horse strung up in a sling.


But now Cattelan is retiring from art, or at least the practice of it. Hard to imagine it, but that’s what he keeps saying. “You ever feel tired and want to change occupations?” he told New York magazine last year. “If you were in a band, you might feel you start to repeat yourself.”

Perhaps it’s another ruse, or perhaps he wants to focus on Toilet Paper, his image-heavy, text-light magazine made with photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari and published by the Deste Foundation. You could ask him tomorrow (January 9, 6:00 pm) when he signs exhibition catalogs for his current retrospective at the Guggenheim and celebrates the latest issue (tissue?) of Toilet Paper.

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