Maurizio Cattelan - Contemporary Art Part I New York Monday, November 8, 2010 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Marian Goodman Gallery, New York

  • Exhibited

    New York, Marian Goodman Gallery, Maurizio Cattelan, April-June 2002 (another example); New York, The FLAG Art Foundation, Attention to Detail, January-August 2008 (another example); Bregenz, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Maurizio Cattelan, February 2 – March 24, 2008 (another example); Scottsdale, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Seriously Funny, February 14 –May 24, 2009 (another example)

  • Literature

    C. Vogel, "Don't Get Angry. He's Kidding. Seriously." The New York Times, 13 May 2002, p. E3 (illustrated); K. Levin, "Maurizio Cattelan at Marian Goodman Gallery", The Village Voice, June 2000; W. Robinson, “Weekend Update,” Artnet Magazine, May 8, 2002 (illustrated); F. Bonami, N. Spector, B. Vanderlinden and M. Gioni, Maurizio Cattelan, New York, 2003, p. 157 (illustrated); Monument to Now: The Dakis Joannou Collection, Athens, 2004, p. 54 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Maurizio Cattelan is a brilliant prankster.
    Frank and Jamie are two New York City police officers from the now defunct Housing Authority division.
    Together, they have turned convention on its head. Literally. Cattelan has rendered these purveyors of authority obsolete and incapable of performing their sworn duty to serve and protect. This mildly subversive element is the main ingredient in his work and is the preeminent reason why he has become such an adored artist. He loves nothing more than to tease his viewers and play (often well-deserved) tricks on the art world—in so doing Cattelan has become Contemporary Art’s charmingly brazen court jester.
    Our two New York City police officers, Frank and Jamie, are dressed in full uniform and are posed upside down along the wall of a gallery. They are completely life-like and Cattelan has spared no details, one even wearing a wedding band. He has rendered their expressions and poses completely unfazed—as if they are standing nonchalantly on a street corner and it is the viewer who is seeing things upside down. However by placing his officers within the context of an exhibition space (and not, say, propped up along the outside wall of a building), Cattelan is aligning them with the role a security guard would have in safeguarding the contents of the room and keeping order. Not only are they completely ineffective in this task but they have actually turned order upside down.  
    The present work echoes Cattelan’s 1997 Dynamo Secession, in which two real and live security guards were installed on bicycles linked to dynamos which in turn powered the light for the exhibition space. Cattelan intrinsically linked those guards to the space in much the same way as with Frank and Jamie. The guards in Dynamo Secession are clearly unable to perform their jobs while pedaling their bicycles. However should they stop  pedaling they would be equally incapable of maintaining order as they would have found themselves in the dark.  
    This is both absurd and brilliantly genius. Cattelan is self-taught and it is this very fact which makes him such a fascinating artist. He is not afraid of addressing serious questions in his art—provoking and challenging contemporary art’s value system through the use of humor and irony. He tests our preconceived notions of what art is capable of. Cattelan has said “I’m not trying to overthrow an institution or question a structure of power.  I’m neither that ambitious nor that naïve. I’m only trying to find a degree of freedom. After all, the museum is a welcoming place for the kid on the bike. He is protected there; he can have fun and nobody will hurt him. I’m not against order or authority as such; I just think that you can create new margins for freedom in every context” (F. Bonami, N. Spector, B. Vanderlinden and M. Gioni, Maurizio Cattelan, New York, 2003, p. 155).
    Frank and Jamie address the play of power and make a heady statement about the seduction of authority. Cattelan is very careful about his choice of subject matter, always selecting highly charged concepts yet refusing to take a concrete position—he is suggestive without being subversive. In true Cattelan fashion, Frank and Jamie is mildly ambiguous, serving as both an homage to the police department but also commenting on the inefficacy of their power.  
    Indeed the present work is part of what Cattelan once referred to as his trilogy about power. Our NYPD officers Frank and Jamie are accompanied in this small grouping by Him and La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour). The first appears to be a kneeling child but upon closer inspection reveals itself as a miniature version of Hitler on his knees praying for forgiveness. The second work is an equally jarring depiction of the Pope crushed by a meteorite. Both works are quite controversial and were initially received with apprehension in much the same way that Frank and Jamie was met with trepidation in the wake of 9/11. In an interview with Carol Vogel at the Marian Goodman Gallery’s inauguration of Frank and Jamie in 2002, Cattelan said: “We tried to do iconic cops, like in the movies. It’s the right moment because it’s the wrong moment. I didn’t want to make a comment about New York City’s police or Sept. 11th or Amadou Diallo,’ referring to a West African immigrant who was killed in 1999 by four white police officers in an incident that became synonymous with a confrontational style of policing” (C. Vogel, “Don’t Get Angry. He’s Kidding. Seriously.” The New York Times, May 13, 2002).  
    Frank and Jamie point us towards the very essence of Cattelan’s work—a constant questioning of authority, be it in the form of law enforcement, gallery owners or art lovers. And he is indeed kidding yet there is truth in all jokes and Cattelan intentionally provokes our reactions, be they positive or negative.  
    His art is completely transformative, on both a physical and more psychological level. His works disrupt what we consider to be the traditional exhibition space and by so doing begin to question the very idea.  In 1997 he installed taxidermied pigeons in the rafters at the Venice Biennale and titled them Turisti, indivisible from the fair’s visitors. And indeed we are all tourists when it comes to Cattelan’s work—making a tour or visit for pleasure or culture and hoping to emerge from the experience having learned something new. Frank and Jamie have taught us that with Maurizio Cattelan, what you see and expect will always be a surprise.   


Frank and Jamie

Wax, clothes and life size figures.
Jamie: 71 x 24 1/2 x 17 3/4 in. (180.3 x 62.2 x 45.1 cm) and Frank: 74 1/2 x 24 3/4 x 20 1/2 in. (189.2 x 62.9 x 52.1 cm).
This work is from an edition of three plus one artist's proof. 

$1,000,000 - 1,500,000 

Sold for $1,594,500

Contemporary Art Part I

8 November 2010
New York