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Maurizio Cattelan


by Charlie Finch
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A film crew doing a documentary on Maurizio Cattelan called me on Thursday afternoon and said, "Maurizio really wants you at his opening tonight," so I delayed returning to snow-torn Westchester and journeyed to the land of the empty ramps, also known as the Goog.

After kissing Klaus Biesenbach and handing him a "Smile" button, I bounded up said ramps, all the way to the top and found Maurizio Cattelan, as fretful as I have ever seen him, clinging to a tiny droll little man, who turned out to be collector Dakis Joannou, so impish and delightful that he belongs behind a hot dog cart out on Fifth Avenue, rather than in one of his spa hotels in Turkey.

I embraced Maurizio and then shot half an hour of video with his crew, before taking a good look at the hanging garden of junk called "All" (as in the detergent powder of the same name). I had expected this assemblage of cauterized Cattelania to be a series of Annette Messager hangings, but it is actually a frieze of carefully engineered decks on which the Maurizioeuvre is stacked and whacked like a hundred pieces by Arman.

“All” exudes a complete smell of tragedy that obliterates the whimsy of the individual pieces (now it's Pope on a Rope and dangling Pinocchio) all resurrected to the rafters. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last week, Cattelan expressed the wish that all his work come crashing down, while at the same time assuring Goog visitors that he had checked the engineering multiple times.

Thomas Aquinas cried on his deathbed, "Now all that I have written is so much straw!" May Maurizio Cattelan, striving for art-world sainthood then turning back, be more like Saint Augustine of Hippo: reconciled to his past and placidly writing his memoirs.

“Maurizio Cattelan, All,” Nov. 4, 2011-Jan. 22, 2012, at the Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10128.

CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).