Dead horses, a stuffed squirrel that shot itself at a dining table, Pope John Paul II struck down by a meteorite - Maurizio Cattelan’s installations have acquired a reputation for their impudent, flashy humour. Having announced his retirement after the Guggenheim Museum in New York staged a retrospective of his works in 2011, Cattelan now makes a spectacular comeback with his new show at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel. Cattelan’s presence in the art world is especially important: his sculptures and installations trample on every convention in the book, subvert imagery and bring mayhem into the gallery space.
Cattelan has been a cook, cleaner, postman, and even mortuary attendant -perhaps it is the varied eccentricity of his work experience that makes no subject too sacred or taboo to explore. On display at this exhibition is an installation entitled “Kaputt”, which consists of five horses hanging headless from the wall in the gallery space. The art critic Francesco Bonami says of “Kaputt”: “The five horses transform delusion into panic and individual effort into a feverish crowd. It's an exodus we're witnessing, not a search for freedom… Cattelan's horses do not seek freedom but survival.” Love him or hate him, Cattelan is a man who knows how to create a visual spectacle, and make it last in the mind.
Maurizio Cattelan’s show is on at the Fondation Beyeler until 6 October.
Fondation Beyeler, Baselstrasse 77, CH 4125 Riehen, Switzerland
All images courtesy of the Fondation Beyeler and Maurizio Cattelan’s Archive.