The New York Times piece on Maurizio Cattelan’s upcoming Guggenheim retrospective—which he says will culminate with his retirement—flips the retrospective conceit on its head. Instead of the artist worrying about his career after the career-defining show, Cattelan’s collectors will have to spend three months hoping their works survive being suspended in the Guggenheim’s rotunda. After all, if the work is damaged, Cattelan will no longer be working as an artist to replace them:
One of the biggest logistical challenges for the show was simply persuading Mr. Cattelan’s collectors, a wealthy and rather powerful group, to lend their expensive prizes to be strung up perilously in the air for almost three months.
“The first letters I sent out were very vague, something to the effect that it was going to be an ‘unorthodox exhibition,’ ” Ms. Spector said. “But then ,as it got closer, I had to level with people.” She added that in the end only one collector turned her down. Over the last few months pieces have been arriving in New York as if for a family reunion from as far away as Taiwan, Greece and Monaco; and engineers, riggers and anxious conservators have been testing suspensions in a hangarlike studio at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. (A couple of pieces, like a real broken safe from which 74 million lira was once stolen, will be re-creations, Ms. Spector said, but only because of their immense weight.)
One afternoon in May at the Manhattan warehouse Mr. Cattelan received an impromptu visit from Dakis Joannou, the Greek industrialist and collector who owns one of the largest collections of Cattelan works and stands to lose the most if the whole display comes tumbling down. If he was nervous on that score, Mr. Joannou did not betray it, hurrying in from a waiting car to see the maquette, clapping Mr. Cattelan on the back like a proud father and at one point getting down on his hands and knees to peer up through the tiny models. “I didn’t expect it to be so extreme,” he said.
Mr. Cattelan, wearing a tailored jacket over a T-shirt that said “Leave Britney Alone,”leered down at him: “I’ve never seen Dakis Joannou in this position before. Too bad nobody has a camera.”
Hanging with Cattelan (New York Times)