The New York Times, Friday, August 7, 2009

Art in Review: Maurizio Cattelan is Dead, Life & Work, 1960 - 2009

By Ken Johnson

Triple Candie is at it again. In recent years this nettlesome gallery, operated by Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett, has been producing fake exhibitions that skewer art-world elitism and insiderism. They created a show of homemade reproductions of works by the reclusive, much-revered sculptor Cady Noland. And they used photocopies to document the career of David Hammons, another big-time player who would probably never deign to exhibit at a low-budget nonprofit like this.

“Maurizio Cattelan Is Dead: Life and Work, 1960-2009” is a mock survey of the career of Mr. Cattelan, the international scenester known for irreverent sculptures like that of Pope John Paul II struck down by a meteor. Supposedly posthumous — Mr. Cattelan is not dead — the exhibition is mainly in the form of a timeline with extensive biographical texts and photocopied images. There are also nondescript re-creations of sculptures by Mr. Cattelan, like one representing a homeless person.

The story is interesting and often funny, if only because Mr. Cattelan’s Duchampian career is so outrageous. He once created an exhibition by stealing the contents of another artist’s show and presenting it as his own.

But if you are going to take on someone as hip as Mr. Cattelan, you have to be pretty cool yourself. This show looks as if it had been produced by nerdy, ham-fisted high school students, making it too easy to dismiss as the sour grapes of envious outsiders. Nevertheless the questions raised about art-world anthropology are worth pondering.



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