• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 9648


    17 May 2001, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 317

    Maurizio Cattelan (b. 1960)

    La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour)

    Price Realised  


    Maurizio Cattelan (b. 1960)
    La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour)
    wax, clothing, polyester resin with metallic powder, volcanic rock, carpet, glass
    dimensions variable
    Executed in 1999. This work is the first of two versions. The second version slightly differs in the figure's face and clothes.

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    This work has been requested for this year's Venice Biennale which runs from June 6 - November 4, 2001.

    Alicia Bona Interviews Maurizio Cattelan

    Alicia Bona: Let's start off with a very direct and simple question, could you tell us a little about La Nona Ora?

    Maurizio Cattelan: I like to think of La Nona Ora as a sculpture that doesn't exist: a three-dimensional image that dissolves into pure communication - an object disappearing in the flux of information, news, comments, headlines, reproductions, newspapers and other seductive spectacles. On the other hand, La Nona Ora could simply be a bad joke taken too seriously, an exercise in absurdity.

    AB: With many of your works I feel there are always interesting and humorous stories about their creation, their inception. Where did the idea for La Nona Ora come from?

    MC: Ideas never really come. They go: it's all about distribution. I gather fragments, bits and pieces, crumbs of reality. Art works need to function very quickly, no matter how complex and varied they are: La Nona Ora is first of all a quick image - a mechanism for incorporating difference in a visual synthesis. When people are different, they tend to interact only through art or war. I prefer to use art as a field study for confrontation. That's where La Nona Ora came from, or maybe that's where La Nona Ora ended up.

    AB: The Pope is an icon, a universally recognized individual. As a popular figure in society, what does the Pope mean to you?

    MC: I'm a member of society myself: so it's not so much what the Pope means to me, but what it means to everyone. I don't subscribe to the image of the artist as an isolated figure, hiding in his ivory tower. I'm trying to connect images and tensions, to bring together different impulses: I want religion and blasphemy to collide, as they do in our daily life. Just think of any day of your week: you wake up, you might pray and think about some metaphysical truth. And then two minutes later you are stuck in the traffic, cursing and swearing and getting mad and anxious. Our life is based on contradiction. In this sense, the Pope is just a pretext, a way to hold up a mirror to our daily mediocrity and confusion. We are living a happy schizophrenic existence, so we might as well start enjoying our symptoms.

    AB: Is your view of the Pope colored by your Roman Catholic upbringing?

    MC: I grew up in a Catholic family, but right in the middle of the Jewish district in Padua: in my house there were images of saints and Virgin Marys everywhere, but when I went to visit my friends, they all lived in apartments where images were prohibited. In those houses with no crucifix and no religious paintings, you could still feel the presence of something sacred, a strange respect or maybe just a pure disposition to sacrifice. I think my obsession for images comes out of those experiences: I learnt to fear icons and, at the same time, I learnt not to trust them.

    AB: I don't feel that anybody could have foreseen the lengths people went to demonstrate their reactions to La Nona Ora while it was exhibited in Warsaw. I was amazed to hear that two deputies from a small nationalist party actually pushed the meteorite off the pope and tried to move him into a standing position. Before leaving the exhibition, they left a letter addressed to the Polish Prime minister and the cultural minister explaining their act. What are your thoughts about the reaction La Nona Ora received in Poland?

    MC: I might be idealistic or naive, but I think that any reaction is valuable and legitimate. Reactions transform art works, they change their shape and reception. Objects are nothing but projections of desire, images of a struggle. And I love when struggles happen right there, in the daylight, so that everybody can see. What happened in Poland was a sort of upside down miracle: salvation wasn't coming from the sky but from the earth, from the people.

    AB: People might have imagined the critical reaction La Nona Ora inspired, but not vandalism nor the fact that some people were advocating the expulsion of the director of the gallery where the Pope was exhibited. How did you feel about your work directly affecting the life and livelihood of another person?

    MC: I think it's simply inevitable. My work radically affects and changes my own life, so it's somehow fair that it would change someone else's existence as well.

    AB: What did you think when the religious background of the director, Anda Rottenberg, became an issue?

    MC: I would say it was dramatic: it's just another example of our unstoppable hatred. We just look for pretexts to start up our next fight.

    AB: As I understand you don't consider yourself to be an artist. How would you feel about calling yourself an idea facilitator, a person who uses symbols, as a means of bringing inherent associations to the surface?

    MC: Actually I always tried to avoid definitions and fixed roles. Everybody plays a different part everyday: we change our role every minute, even every second, as we try to please someone or impress someone else. I'm just a product of this situation, like anybody else: I'm an exploded, weak ego. In the end, I just believe there is a certain strength in being invisible.

    AB: Do you feel La Nona Ora presents itself in an ambiguous manner, with no set interpretation, or do you have a specific message in mind?

    MC: Messages are for advertising, not for art: I always thought that art is not about explanations. It's about opening up possibilities. Advertising, just like religion, tries to tell the truth. Art, instead, should try to tell lies.

    AB: What do you think about the fact that La Nona Ora is only two years old, and yet is already seen as an icon?

    MC: What scares me the most is the way in which scandals and consensus seem to walk hand in hand these days. You can't step outside of the system, you can't be radical: everything is sanctioned, appreciated and digested. We are perennially at ease, numbed. In the end, every man kills the things he loves.


    Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris


    G. Verzotti, Maurizio Cattelan, Milan 1999, pp.39-40 (illustrated) F. Bonami, N. Spector, and B. Vanderlinden, Maurizio Cattelan, London 2000, p. 139 (illustrated)
    M. Gioni, "Maurizio Cattelan", Flash Art (International), v33 no 210, January/February 2000, p. 107 (illustrated)
    D. Lee, "The cross that art lovers now have to bear", Daily Mail, Thursday, May 4, 2000, p. 25 (illustrated)
    B. Appleyeard, "Welcome to the freak show", Sunday Times (Culture), August 8 2000, pp. 8-9 (illustrated)
    A. Roberts, "Sexier than the Tate", The Evening Standard, Thursday, 17 August 2000, p. 23 (illustrated)
    D. Alberge, "Royal Academy art 'belongs in a horror show'", The Times, Monday August 21, 2000, p. 17 (illustrated)
    "Fallen star Polish MPs wreck papal sculpture", The Guardian (London), December 23, 2000, Guardian Foreign Pages, p. 13
    N. Ratnam, "LOVE AND FAITH", RA Magazine, Autumn 2000, (illustrated)
    L. Buck, "Apocalypse: Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art", World of Interiors, September 2000, p. 174 (illustrated)
    "OUTLOOK ROCK OF AGES", Gay Times, September 2000 (illustrated)
    "Apocalpyse", Eurostar Magazine, No. 49, September 2000 (illustrated)
    J. Jones, "Shock treatment", The Guardian, Thursday September 7 2000, G2, p. 3 (illustrated)
    L. Buck, "Two draughtsmen of the Apocalypse, The Independent Review, 13 September 2000, p. 10 (illustrated)
    M. Dunk, "APOCALYPSE NOW", Daily Express, Weekend Arts, Saturday September 16 2000, p. 50 (illustrated)
    W. Leith, "I call myself Lucky Norman", The Sunday Telegraph, September 17 2000, (illustrated)
    M. Herbert, "Maurizio Cattelan", TIME OUT, Apocalypse supplement, September 13-20, p. 18 (illustrated)
    "-it's Apocalypse now SHOCK OR SCHLOCK? THE ARTISTS EVERYONE WILL BE TALKING ABOUT", Evening Standard, Tuesday, 19 September 2000, p. 9 (illustrated)
    F. Gibbons, "Shock art with horror for all to enjoy: Royal Academy show offers plenty to be outraged about", The Guardian (London), Wednesday September 20 2000, Guardian Home Pages, p. 7 (illustrated)
    D. Aaronovitch, "Brash, innovative, my kind of show", The Independent, 20 September 2000, (illustrated)
    N. Reynolds, "RA aims for new Sensation with a hell of a show" The Daily Telegraph, Wednesday, September 20, 2000, p. 11 (illustrated)
    D. Johnson, "How one man turned the RA into Madame Tussaud's", The Daily Telegraph (London), September 20, 2000, p. 24 (illustrated)
    A. Searle, "The end of the world as we know it: Even before it opens, the Royal Academy's new show is under attack. But there's more to Apocalypse than squashed popes and troubled Nazis", The Guardian (London), Thursday September 21 2000, Guardian Features Pages, pp. 12-13 (illustrated)
    B. Sewell, "Extreme boredom redeemed by Hell and the history men", Evening Standard, Friday, 22 September 2000, pp. 32-33
    W. Packer, "Apocalypse where?", Financial Times Weekend, September 23/September 24 2000, p. 6 (illustrated)
    E. Ferguson, "A Hell of his own making", The Observer, 24 September 2000, p. 15
    L. Cumming, "It's just hell, darling...", The Observer Review, 24 September 2000, p. 6
    P. Hensher, "Dead end of the world..." MAIL ON SUNDAY, September 24, 2000, p. 78
    A. Riding, "Another Opening, Another Sensation", New York Times, Monday September 25, 2000, First Arts page (illustrated)
    P. Adamick, "THE END OF THE WORLD IS NOW", The Scotsman, September 26, 2000, p. 16
    A. Riding, "The Shocking In British Art Becomes Routine", Herald Tribune, Paris, Wednesday, September 27, 2000 (illustrated)
    C. Horyn, "FASHION REVIEW; In London, Ho-Hum Ends In Smash Finale", "Not the last word", The Economist, September 30, 2000 (illustrated)
    "Apocalypse: Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art", Contemporary Visual Arts, September/October 2000 (illustrated)
    The New York Times, October 1, 2000, Sunday, Late Edition, Section 9, p. 1
    P. Plagens, "Apocalypse Now: What does it take to top a mere 'Sensation'? That's what visitors to London Royal Academy of Arts will find out at a new exhibition", Newsweek, October 2, 2000, Society The Arts, p. 114 (illustrated)
    N. Nicolson, "Am I being dense about modern art?" Sunday Telegraph (London), October 8, 2000, p. 2
    G. Celant, "Shock-Art Generation", L'Espresso, 12 ottobre 2000, pp. 146-147 (illustrated)
    C. Boltanski, "La Royal Academy Refait "Sensation"", Libération, Lundi 16 Octobre 2000 (illustrated)
    J. Baxter, "Mail Call", Newsweek, October 30, 2000, Atlantic Edition, LETTERS, p. 25
    M. Gayford, "Hanging's too good", Harper's & Queen, October 2000 (illustrated)
    Varsovie correspondance, "Pologne: pas touche au pape!", Libération, Lundi Janvier 2001, p. 22 (illustrated)
    J-Y. Jouannais and C. Kihm, "les "Witz" de Maurizio Cattelan (The Witz Kid), artpress, February 2001, p. 22 (illustrated)
    D. Kazanjian, "the lying game", Vogue, February 2001, p. 273 (illustrated)
    W. Niesluchowski, J. Maslanka and T. Kitlinski, "Polish Passions Damage Two Works", Art in America, March 2001, p. 160 (illustrated)
    "Art attack", THE ART NEWSPAPER, No. 112, MARCH 2001, p. 8 (illustrated)


    Kunsthalle Basel, Maurizio Cattelan, September-October 1999, pp. 17-18, 20-21 (illustrated)
    London, Royal Academy of Arts, Apocalypse: beauty and horror in contemporary art, September-December 2000, pp. 94-97 (illustrated; second version exhibited)
    Warsaw, The Zacheta Gallery of Contemporary Art, 100th Anniversary, December 2000-February 2001 (second version exhibited)