Primeira retrospectiva de Maurizio Cattelan no Guggenheim de Nova York ganha aplicativo com mais de 280 imagens
O Museu Guggenheim de Nova York apresenta, desde 4 de novembro e até 22 de janeiro de 2012, Maurizio Cattelan: Tudo, primeira retrospectiva do trabalho do artista italiano reconhecido internacionalmente. Aclamado simultaneamente como provocador e poeta trágico, Maurizio Cattelan criou algumas das imagens mais inesquecíveis da arte contemporânea recente. Suas fontes de inspiração procedem da cultura popular, da história e da religião que dão lugar a uma meditação, tanto divertida como profunta, da natureza do ser.
O artista se dedica a criar esculturas inquietantemente realistas que revelam as condições da sociedade atual. Iirreverente, seu trabalho supõe uma crítica ao autoritarismo e ao abuso de poder. Maurizio Cattelan: Tudo reúne cerca de 130 obras que compliam exemplo de tudo o que o artista criou desde 1989.
Para a exposição de Maurizio Cattelan, o museu Guggenheim lançou o primeiro aplicativo para celulares e iPad de apoio à exposição. O aplicativo, além de informações complementares sobre a instalação, traz extras muito interessante sobre o artista. Ao todo são 47 áudios, 286 imagens e 39 vídeos.
DICA DE LEITURA: Recomendamo a leitura do texto “A Suspension of Willful Disbelief”, de Linda Yablonsky, publicado no jornal The New York Thimes, em 3 de novembro de 2011. Texto em inglês.
A Suspension of Willful Disbelief
Is Maurizio Cattelan quitting while he’s ahead or before he lags too far behind? The question hangs over that Italian artist’s much anticipated 21-year retrospective at the Guggenheim, where, as is widely known by now, all the art is up in the air, too.
This unusual show has been described by Mr. Cattelan as his swan song. Although only 51, which is young in artist years, he has announced that he is retiring from the job of making art. Perhaps to celebrate, he has turned his retrospective into something of a final blowout artwork, one made of earlier pieces — 128 of them to be precise — and involving some delicate engineering. Mr. Cattelan’s entire artistic output, excepting two works whose owners declined to lend them, hangs in a gigantic distended mass from cables connected to an aluminum truss near the top of the museum’s rotunda. Titled “All,” it fills one of the most famous architectural voids in the world with what surely ranks as one of the largest, most complicated, visually muddled mobiles in the history of art.
It’s an impressive feat, Mr. Cattelan’s seeming evasion of the stultifying grip of the retrospective by “stringing up” his art — to use the words of Nancy Spector, the Guggenheim curator who organized the show, in its catalog. The effect is initially startling, but ultimately disrespectful and perverse. In some ways it may be just the thing for our attention-deficient times. You can zip up and down the ramp seeing everything and nothing at top speed. Yet its entertaining conceit aside, the show suggests that Mr. Cattelan knows what he’s about: he’s always been uneven and now he is running out of ideas. It may indeed be time for him to quit, and his previous, consistently subversive forays into gallery-running, exhibition-making and magazine publishing give him plenty of options.
The self-abnegating spectacle of “All” is completely in character with Mr. Cattelan’s well-known ambivalence about himself, his talent and his art, and his oft-cited fascination with failure. He grew up in Padua, the son of a truck driver and a cleaning woman. He worked from an early age; the biggest impression was made by a stint in a local morgue, an experience that Ms. Spector cites as a source of the continuing fascination with death most evident in his recurring use of taxidermied animals. He backed into art with little formal training after working briefly as a furniture designer.
Viewed from below especially, “All” is a full-bodied catalogue raisonné in the form of an exploding piñata of Cattelania, frozen in midair. As you ascend the ramp, the chaos continues: everything seems to be coming at you all at once. Displayed helter-skelter, for instance, are Conceptual pieces from his early “relational aesthetics” years, when he subverted various social transactions and art-world conventions, yielding works that often make sense only if you know the back story. “Tarzan and Jane,” a large color photograph of two people in lion costumes peering through a door, turns out to be an image of art dealers who gamely wore these suits for the duration of Mr. Cattelan’s show in their gallery in 1993. Equally opaque, if more typically sculptural, is “Lullaby,” from 1994, an oversized blue bag full of something that the catalog tells us is rubble from one of the Mafia-related bombings that swept Italy in the mid-1990s.
Another early work is simply a small plastic sign on a cheap brass chain that says “Torno Subito” — basically, “Be Back Soon.” When Mr. Cattelan failed to come up with satisfactory artwork for an exhibition scheduled with an Italian art dealer in 1989, he purchased the sign and hung it on the door of the gallery, which remained closed for the show’s run, adding another footnote to the long history of the empty gallery as art exhibition. The little sign is at the Guggenheim, but is so hard to find that it amounts to another failure.
One of the first works by Mr. Cattelan that speaks clearly for itself is a large black-and-white photograph of the artist from 1995. Dressed in jeans, a sweater and sneakers, he rolls on his back with his tongue hanging out and his hands and feet raised like paws. The image is comic perfection: a portrait of the artist as an obsequious canine, embarrassingly eager to please. In 1995 he also began his line of taxidermied horses, donkeys, mice and too many cutely curled-up dogs. Dead or alive? You decide. (Very close scrutiny reveals the “Torno Subito” sign hanging from the neck of a golden retriever that is also not going to be back any time soon.) In 1999 Mr. Cattelan began making exquisite life-size wax effigies of various people, including himself, looking young and cherubic; Pope John Paul II felled by a meteor; Hitler as a kneeling schoolboy possibly asking forgiveness; and a little old lady smiling out at us from a half-open refrigerator.
Whatever their strengths, the individual works are radically decontextualized and diminished in this arrangement. For example, Mr. Cattelan’s best-known, most controversial work, “La Nona Ora,” the life-size wax effigy of the downed pope, is usually installed on an immense expanse of red carpet amid shattered glass. It is as if an act of God (who else?) had just plunged the rock through the rose window of a large cathedral during high Mass. (The work’s title, which translates as “The Ninth Hour,” refers to the time that Christ died on the cross.) But at the Guggenheim the carpet has shrunk to a raft-size pallet not much larger than the pope, who now seems not so much a powerful target of heavenly wrath — and a work whose display in a Warsaw museum eventually cost its director her job — as a bit of cargo on the verge of being hoisted into a ship’s hold.
Throughout, there are pieces that never make it beyond the one-liner stage. Nearly a dozen paintings parody the frequent hokeyness of the Argentine-Italian modernist Lucio Fontana’s sliced-canvas monochromes by rearranging his cuts to form Z’s, for Zorro, but two wrongs don’t make a right. An enormous taxidermied white cow with scooter handles where horns might be is merely a bulky reiteration of one of the oldest Surrealist tricks in the book, descended from Meret Oppenheim’s fur-covered teacup. Most recent are nine shrouded, horizontal human forms carved from Carrara marble, an evocation of death as obvious as it is opulent.
But other pieces are richly enigmatic. An olive tree planted in a large Minimalist cube of dirt looks great, as if it floated out of a Magritte. As does the ostensibly touching but in fact typically ambiguous “Not Afraid of Love,” which is a very lifelike sculpture of an incredibly cute elephant beneath a sheet (with holes for the eyes) that conjures shyness, Halloween and also the Ku Klux Klan.
Mr. Cattelan’s exhibition is in many ways the exact opposite of the funhouse of participatory claptrap that Carsten Höller, his fellow traveler in relational aesthetics, has mounted at the New Museum. “All” is a funhouse that keeps the viewer at arm’s length while greatly compromising the art. Ms. Spector writes that it is “a full-scale admission of the inadvisability of viewing his work within the context of a conventional retrospective.” But the show nonetheless does its job, tracing the trajectory of Mr. Cattelan’s career from the obscure to the overly clear, with some memorably resonant moments along the way. Still thumbing his nose at all concerned, Mr. Cattelan has taken himself to task.
“Maurizio Cattelan: All” runs through Jan. 22 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, at 89th Street; (212) 423-3500, guggenheim.org.
* Imagens: David Heald e Alessandro Ghirelli