Maurizio Cattelan is a modern day art world genius, who has come closest to crossing that thin line between innocence and crime (without getting convicted). In 1996 while participating in a group show Crap Shoot in de Appel, Amsterdam, Cattelan used a criminal act as his medium, while making an art gallery his unwitting accomplice in the crime. De Appel insisted that Cattelan complete an art installation in one week and he did not like to work that fast. He explained that he hated to work when he was a young man and believed labor robbed us of our precious time. Too often, art work becomes laborious, so he made a crime into an artwork. The night prior to the Crap Shoot opening, Maurizio broke into the nearby Galerie Bloom, which did not have an alarm system, and stole all of the gallery’s contents- the artworks, fax machines, filing cabinets-everything. He packed up the gallery’s property in boxes and transported them to de Appel where he exhibited them the next day under the title Another Fucking Readymade. This “theft” was a statement about displacement; one gallery was transported completely to another. This has been described as a form of cultural policing that allowed the curators of de Appel to reframe a real theft as an act of appropriation. The police were soon summoned and there were problems on the horizon. The owners of Galerie Bloom soon calmed down and made a deal to not press the issue if Maurizio would do a show in their gallery on a future date. Maurizio jests that if he did this piece in New York he would have been locked up for years on a burglary, so he chose the very open minded Amsterdam where all is legal.
In his 2002 work Untitled, Cattelan was in need of a work for an upcoming exhibition and, pressed for time, could not make his deadline. He went to the local police station the evening prior to the opening and reported that an unknown suspect had stolen a sculpture from his car. Cattelan framed the official police report and hung it in the gallery the next day.
By representing a safe that has already been broken into as a sculptural work of art, Maurizio Cattelan has taken the idea of “Ready Made” one stage further, by cleverly highlighting the criminal nature of this activity as outright theft. “-76.000.000” is a real broken safe from which 76 million lira was stolen. In the broken safe, Maurizio Cattelan has ingeniously discovered a metaphor for the bankruptcy of ideas in post-modern communication, or what Roland Barthes termed “The Death of an Author.” As an artist burdened with the rich history that comes before him, Maurizio Cattelan is constantly needing to break into the historical locker for inspiration. The Saatchi Gallery, London.
Maurizio Cattelan was born in 1960 in Padua, Italy. He is known as an art world prankster whose work has provoked and challenged the limits of contemporary value systems through its use of irony and humor (often times dark humor). Maurizio often question institutional authority and can prove to be insolent in the extreme when the occasion arises.
In this work Maurizio
Cattelan presents a new icon of subversion. Continuing his exploration of
the mechanics of confrontation, Frank & Jamie is both an inverted image of
power and a statement about the seduction of authority.