Charlie

Create your first list.

A way to share and manage lots.

  • Provenance

    Marian Goodman Gallery, New York; The Olbricht Collection, Essen, Germany

  • Exhibited

    Venice, 50th Venice Biennale, June 15 – November 2, 2003; Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, Maurizio Cattelan, July 20 – October 26, 2003 (another example exhibited)

  • Literature

    F. Bonami, M. Gioni, N. Spector and B. Vanderlinden, Maurizio Cattelan, London 2003 (Phaidon, second edition), p. 149 (illustrated); D. Rimanelli, “Entries,” in Artforum, September 2003, p. 33 (illustrated); G. Politi, “Killing Me Softly, A Conversation with Maurizio Cattelan,” in Flash Art, July – September 2004, p. 92 (illustrated); A. Heil and W. Schoppmann, Most Wanted: The Olbricht Collection, Cologne 2005, p. 83 (illustrated); F. Manacorda, Maurizio Cattelan, Milan 2006, pp. 86 – 87 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    All work and No Play Makes Jack a dull boy
    BY MASSIMILIANO GIONI
     
    Like a magician with a mischievous streak, Maurizio Cattelan is a master of both provocation and artistic sleight of hand. Frequently, these proclivities manifest themselves in the form of Houdini-like escapes and evasions, as when he fled from the opening of a 1992 group show at the Castello di Rivara in Turin by way of a string of knotted bedsheets, which were left behind as his contribution to the show, or when, for a show at the De Appel arts center in Amsterdam in 1996, he burgled the entire contents of a gallery nearby and exhibited it under the title Another Fucking Readymade. Both conceptually astute and charmingly self-effacing, these works are inspired by a potent mixture of Cattelan’s intense fear of failure and his irrepressible need to take potshots at those in positions of power, be they gallerists, collectors, or massive international institutions and biennales.
     
    Charlie, 2003, a remote-controlled, doll-like self-portrait of Cattelan as a child who pilots a small tricycle, which he created for the international exhibition of the 50th Venice Biennale, is the embodiment of these veiled fears and iconoclastic aggressions. By way of the work’s remote control, the Cattelan doll, which is clothed boyishly in a navy-blue hooded sweatshirt, khakis and lived-in white Converse sneakers, can be made to drive the tricycle in any direction desired, and can also be made to move its eyes, or even roll them in cartoonish exasperation. During the Biennale’s vernissage, Charlie could be seen riding in and out of the international exhibition hall (fig 1), and around the Giardini at large. A roving artwork, Charlie functioned as a circus sideshow to the Biennale’s carnivalesque opening proceedings and as a way for Cattelan to attempt to escape the pressures of participation in his fifth installment of the world’s most prestigious biennale. But however playful this game of international art world hide-and-seek seems at first, it takes on a darker cast with the knowledge that the tricycle ridden by Cattelan’s little effigy is the same one ridden by actor Danny Lloyd in his role as the psychically gifted child in Stanley Kubrick’s seminal horror film The Shining (1980) (fig 2). Whether auguring doom for the art world as a whole or simply Cattelan’s position of power within it, Cattelan’s cinematic allusion bears with it the suggestion that, like the child in Kubrick’s film, Cattelan has sensed that something terrible awaits him, just over the horizon, and though he pedals as fast as his little legs can carry him, there seems to be no escape.
     
    Looking beyond the work’s substrata of dread, Charlie is conceptually in keeping with the many works that Cattelan executed during the 1990s that engaged and critiqued the exploding interest in both the creation and spectacularization of international art biennales. This emergent biennale fever was a definitive force in the art world of 1990s, and, as a result, Cattelan’s irreverent, high-profile interactions with the phenomenon rendered him into one of the touchstone artists of the decade. Unsurprisingly, some of Cattelan’s best-known works dealing with biennale culture occurred at the Venice Biennale, the mother of all biennales. In the 1993 Venice Biennale, Cattelan famously rented his allotted space in the exhibition to an advertising company which put up a billboard promoting a new brand of perfume, a gesture that catapulted him onto the world stage nearly overnight. Subsequent iterations of the Biennale saw Cattelan grow even more brazen: in 1997, he festooned the Italian pavilion with an army of stuffed pigeons (Turisti, 1997); in 1999, he hired an Indian fakir who, for three hours a day during the three days of the vernissage, would be buried in sand until only his hands, brought together in prayer, were visible above ground (Mother, 1999). In 2001, Cattelan brought the Biennale all the way to Sicily, where he installed a full-scale replica of the Hollywood sign on the edge of a trash dump overlooking Palermo. However, after these attention-grabbing contributions, and the international accolades that they garnered, it seemed to Cattelan that he had exhausted every avenue of spectacle and provocation imaginable. As a result, when he was invited to participate in the 2003 Biennale — which was to be his fourth Biennale in a row — Cattelan created Charlie in an attempt, both actual and metaphoric, to escape from the public eye and the ever-present fear of spectacular failure that spectacular success brings. Ducking and weaving around the exhibition, Cattelan fashioned his artwork into a moving target — one that was both harder to grasp, and harder to shoot down.
     
    Within the broader context of Cattelan’s work, Charlie is also an iconic example of what he has dubbed his “mini-mes.” These works, which are all some manner of self-portrait — whether as an adult, or as a child — act as Cattelan’s physical and emotional surrogates and as tools to both deconstruct and elaborate his public persona. Among these works, Charlie most closely relates to his earlier work Charlie Don’t Surf, 1997 (fig 3), a sculptural portrait of Cattelan as a boy, seated at a school desk with his hands transfixed to its surface by two sharpened pencils, as if he has fallen victim to some brutal form of scholastic crucifixion. Like Charlie, Charlie Don’t Surf was created in response to Cattelan’s nagging sense that he is inadequate and in some way destined for failure, whether it is the academic failure that haunted him as a child, or the failure to live up to his outsized reputation that haunts him now. In terms of their strategy, these self-reflexive works place Cattelan in the company of such art world personalities as Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys, whose works and lives in the public eye were inextricable. However, unlike Warhol or Beuys, whose works projected unambiguous assurances about their place in the hallowed halls of art history, Cattelan’s self-mythologizing is more modest and multi-layered, forming a portrait of the artist as a proud neurotic. (M. Gioni, The Wrong Times, 2003)

6

Charlie

Executed in 2003
Tricycle, steel, varnish, rubber, resin, silicone, natural hair, fabric, motor, remote control.
32 1/4 x 36 1/4 x 22 in. (81.9 x 92.1 x 55.9 cm).

This work is from an edition of 3 plus 1 AP.

Estimate
$2,000,000 - 3,000,000 

sold for $2,994,500

Carte Blanche

8 November 2010  6pm
New York