Maurizio Cattelan: AllSculpture |
A provocateur's career-spanning hodgepodge.
It's easy to understand both the incredible popularity (the museum's extended its hours!) and the near-instant critical disdain leveled at the Guggenheim's career-spanning exhibit of Maurizio Cattelan, the visual artist described as "provocateur, prankster, and tragic poet." It's a great use of the Guggenheim rotunda: rigged from above hangs a hodge-podge of Cattelan's sculptures, paintings, taxidermy, photos, etc. The gallery walls are empty, so the audience clusters around the edge, looking through nooks and crannies of what is self-consciously presented as a big trashpile. And the work's interesting, if too often obvious: well-known pieces include a sculptured pope leveled by a meteor; a Hitler figure kneeling in supplication; and a preserved mule carcass hanging limply. It's intentionally confrontational stuff presented as spectacle, and all-in-all an impressive use of the singular space. But piled together, the work's potentially transgressive effect is counteracted by an overwhelming self-satisfaction. Cattelan's pieces in isolation can interrupt a viewing experience, and can be shocking or funny. The "all" of this exhibit draws too much attention to the joke until it washes out to contrivance. Of course, you can't get everything from a trashpile, and there seem to be plenty who find more than enough eccentric and impressive junk here to warrant a visit.