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Exhibition of Maurizio Cattelan’s work opens at Venus Over Manhattan and Sotheby's S/2 Gallery
TURISTI (10 WORKS). Taxidermied pigeons. Executed in 1997. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- From 30 October to 26 November 2014 Sotheby’s S|2 and Venus Over Manhattan will present Cosa Nostra, the first major exhibition of Maurizio Cattelan’s work since Maurizio Cattelan: All, the 2011/12 Guggenheim retrospective, and the artist’s subsequent retirement. Curated by collector and gallerist Adam Lindemann, this selling exhibition will showcase a range of works from Cattelan’s career, including many of the artist’s most recognizable iconography that has made him one of the most idiosyncratic and unique of his generation. A direct response to All, Cosa Nostra will utilize a distinct and dramatic exhibition design in each presenting venue, highlighting the artist's works as powerful, individual objects. At Venus Over Manhattan, the works will exist in isolation; at S|2, the viewer will be immersed in their images. Drawn from important private collections, the works range in value from $30,000 to $20 million.

Alexander Rotter, Co-Head of Sotheby’s Worldwide Contemporary Art Department, commented: “Maurizio Cattelan is one of the most distinctive artists of our time. Whether we are amused, shocked, or even outraged, no one can walk by a Cattelan without appreciating the profound force of his work.”

Adam Lindemann commented: "Our title of Cosa Nostra refers to Maurizio's Italian roots and sensibility, as well as to my confidence in him. It's also a wink to S|2 and Venus's collaboration on this exciting double show."

Cattelan’s body of work forces his viewers to consider their position within the world. His absurdist compositions are unsettling both physically and psychologically. This is most profoundly realized in the works which display taxidermied animals in a variety of environments. In 1997, Cattelan observed the decrepit, pigeon-filled Italian pavilion of that year’s Venice Biennale prior to the opening. He responded by presenting taxidermied birds sprawled throughout the space in a work entitled Turisti, thus elevating this debris to the level of high art. The exhibition will feature all of the taxidermied animals in Cattelan’s repertoire.

In the Untitled sculpture using a broom and canvas (below left), Cattelan recalls the monochromatic paintings of Piero Manzoni and Lucio Fontana to create a self-supporting balancing act using the weight of the object resting on the canvas to shape the pictorial plane. The artist recalls Duchampian humor by using found objects to question the nature of the art object as well as the nature of the art world much like the Arte Povera master himself. Executed in 2009, one from this edition of three was jointly acquired by the Menil Collection, Houston and the Dallas Museum of Art.

Ave Maria (above center), from 2007, is comprised of three uniformed arms extending bodiless from the wall in a fascist salute. Confronting issues of mass violence, power and conformity, Cattelan’s severed arms are hung on the wall as if a decorative element in a home. Instead of uniforms, the arms don everyday business suits, drawing an analogy between the everyday banality and conformity of office life and fascist Germany.

Throughout his career Cattelan has reveled in the interplay between good and evil, humor and irreverence. With the unnerving wax sculpture Him (above right), the artist confronts us with the head of Adolf Hitler on the kneeling body of a twelve-year old boy, hands clasped, if not quite in prayer then in a gesture of obeisance unlikely in history’s most reviled leader.

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