Maurizio Cattelan’s “America” Comes To America At The Guggenheim Museum
A new, site-specific work by Maurizio Cattelan opened at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on September 16, 2016. For Maurizio Cattelan: “America”, the artist replaces a toilet in one of the museum’s public restrooms with a fully functional replica cast in solid gold. Cattelan is often described as the art world’s resident prankster and provocateur; this installation is the first artwork he has produced since his 2011–12 Guggenheim retrospective, Maurizio Cattelan: All, which initiated the artist’s self-imposed exile.
The new work makes available to the public an extravagant luxury product seemingly intended for the 1 percent. Its participatory nature, in which viewers are invited to make use of the fixture individually and privately, allows for an experience of unprecedented intimacy with an artwork. Cattelan’s toilet offers a wink to the excesses of the art market, but also evokes the American dream of opportunity for all, its utility ultimately reminding us of the inescapable physical realities of our shared humanity.
As an art historical gesture, “America” references Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917), a urinal presented as sculptural readymade. Created nearly a century after Duchamp’s seminal work, Cattelan’s installation may be understood as countering the artistic transgression of Fountain by restoring the function of their shared subject. “America” also alludes to Piero Manzoni’s examination of creative labor and value in the series Artist’s Shit (1961), in which Manzoni allegedly canned his own excrement and sold each container at a price equal to its weight in gold.
On the occasion of this new installation, the Guggenheim has published a revised edition of the catalogue Maurizio Cattelan: All. Originally published to accompany Cattelan’s 2011–12 retrospective at the museum, the catalogue has become the definitive source on his work. This new volume, available at the Guggenheim Museum Store, is distinguished by a reworked cover design and includes images of the All installation and a revised coda by Nancy Spector.
“America” is organized by Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Brooklyn Museum (former Deputy Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation).
Support for Maurizio Cattelan: “America” is provided by Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson, Wendy Fisher, Marian Goodman Gallery, Dakis and Lietta Joannou, Svetlana Kuzmicheva-Uspenskaya and Alexey Kuzmichev, Galerie Perrotin, Beth Swofford, and Dasha Zhukova.
About The Artist
Maurizio Cattelan (b. 1960, Padua, Italy), lives and works in New York and Milan. Unafraid to tackle taboo subject matter in visually seductive presentations, Cattelan has created some of the most unforgettable images in recent contemporary art. The first retrospective of the artist’s work, Maurizio Cattelan: All, was organized by the Guggenheim Museum and was on view from November 2011 to January 2012. It featured 130 works—examples of virtually everything the artist had produced since 1989—and presented them en masse, strung seemingly haphazardly from the oculus of the museum’s rotunda. Other solo exhibitions of Cattelan’s work have been organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2000); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2001); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2001–03); P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1), New York (2002); Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (2003); Musée du Louvre, Paris (2004); Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2008); The Menil Collection, Houston (2010); and Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2013). His work has also been featured in such exhibitions as the Venice Biennale (1993, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2003, and 2011), SITE Santa Fe (1997), Manifesta 2 (1998), Istanbul Biennial (1998), Kunsthalle Basel (1999), Whitney Biennial (2004), and theanyspacewhatever at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2008).
About The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. The Guggenheim network that began in the 1970s when the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, was joined by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, has since expanded to include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (opened 1997), and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (currently in development). The Guggenheim Foundation continues to forge international collaborations that celebrate contemporary art, architecture, and design within and beyond the walls of the museum, including the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative and The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative. More information about the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation can be found at guggenheim.org.
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