Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan (b.1960) is known as the art world’s agent provocateur, using what seem to be stunts to address universal themes around the nature of dogma, power and death. This solo display includes one of his earliest works – a miniature family kitchen featuring a squirrel that has committed suicide. Bidibidobidiboo (1996), after the fairy godmother’s song in Disney’s Cinderella, encapsulates Cattelan’s acerbic wit and his melancholic worldview.
Elsewhere a heavy duty carrier bag filled to bursting point contains rubble from Milan’s Contemporary Art Pavilion destroyed by a Mafia-related bomb attack. In another sculpture the emblem of the 1970s terrorist group Brigate Rosse is turned into a neon Christmas greeting. A wax effigy of Cattelan himself, dressed in the iconic artist Joseph Beuys’ signature grey felt suit and hanging by the neck from a clothes rack, satirizes the role of the artist as saviour. He comments ‘maybe I’m just saying that we are all corrupted in a way; life itself is corrupted, and that’s the way we like it’. Cattelan’s work is part of a return of the figure in contemporary art. By contrast with classical statuary however, the body today may be surreal, performative, mythic or abject.
This is just one of the themes reflected within the Collection Sandretto Re Rebaudengo from Turin of which this is the first display. This collection reflects and defines the dominant forms and ideas in European, US and Latin American art since the 1990s and is part of the Whitechapel Gallery’s programme of rarely seen public and private collections.
The Whitechapel Gallery’s programme of collection displays is supported by: