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The front doors at Maurizio Cattelan and Massimiliano Gioni’s new gallery, Family Business
The front doors at Maurizio Cattelan and Massimiliano Gioni’s new gallery, Family Business

Maurizio Cattelan


by Rachel Corbett
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Visitors to Anna Kustera Gallery in recent days may have been surprised to find not the usual bubbly, raven-haired proprietor in the office, but a surly, baritone-voiced Italian instead -- Maurizio Cattelan himself. Though he has vowed to retire from art making after his Guggenheim Museum retrospective closes on Jan. 22, apparently he isn't going far.

“I like to tell people he gave up making art to be my intern,” Kustera said. “It would be fun, wouldn’t it? But, no, it’s not true.” Instead, Kustera has walled off a 125-square-foot section at the front of her West 21st Street space for Cattelan and New Museum curator Massimiliano Gioni to launch a new gallery, named Family Business, scheduled to open in February.

Kustera said they hatched the plan just last month, and Cattelan immediately signed on for a three-year lease. “He’s always liked my front space,” she said. In 2008, he encouraged her to host “The World’s Smallest Art Fair” in the entrance, which resulted in a three-week exhibition of one-by-one-foot works from 50 international galleries.

And, as many will remember, in 2002 longtime collaborators Cattelan and Gioni ran The Wrong Gallery, another mini-gallery on West 20th Street. A shallow recess behind a single glass door, the always-closed space forced visitors to peer through the glass to view small-scaled art by Pawel Althamer, Paul McCarthy, Elizabeth Peyton and Shirana Shahbazi, among others. The Wrong Gallery was evicted in 2005.

Family Business is already under construction, as was evident during last night’s opening of the Anna Kustera Gallery exhibition “Disappearing Acts” (featuring works by Stephanie Campos, Troy Michie and Dominic Nurre). The gallery's front wall has been moved forward several feet, and outside, Cattelan had scrawled “Family Business” on two strips of tape stuck to new glass doors.

So far, the tentative plans call for Marilyn Minter to organize the gallery’s inaugural exhibition, which is probably a presentation of some kind of video program. And it’s still unclear just how involved Kustera will be. The project is to remain entirely under Gioni and Cattelan’s leadership, but she says it’s plausible that she’ll coordinate her openings with theirs, and perhaps even see a cut of Family Business sales.

“I keep asking him, like, ‘dude, you gotta let me know how this is going to play out,’ and he’s just like,” imitating Cattelan’s low, thickly accented drawl, “‘Let it just happen.’”

Update: Via email, Gioni tells Artnet News that works shown at Family Business are not for sale, and his participation in the project is strictly on a nonprofit basis.

RACHEL CORBETT is news editor at Artnet Magazine. She can be reached at Send Email