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Maurizio Cattelan (B. 1960)
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Maurizio Cattelan (B. 1960)

Spermini (Little Sperms)

Maurizio Cattelan (B. 1960)
Spermini (Little Sperms)
twenty-five painted latex rubber masks
each: circa 6¾ x 3¼ x 3 7/8in. (17.2 x 8.3 x 9.8cm.)
total: dimensions variable
Executed in 1997, this work is unique and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist. It formed part of the original installation of 500 masks at the Galleria Massimo Minini, Brescia.
Galleria Massimo Minini, Brescia.
'Maurizio Cattelan', Dijon 1998 (original installation of 500 masks at the Galleria Massimo Minini, Brescia, illustrated in colour, p. 118).
A. Gingeras, 'A Sociology Without Truth', in: 'Parkett', No. 59, 1998 (original installation illustrated in colour, p. 53).
'Maurizio Cattelan', Milan 1999 (original installation illustrated in colour, p. 48).
B. Riemschneider and U. Grosenick (eds.), 'Art at the Turn of the Millennium', Cologne 1999 (original installation illustrated in colour, no. 3, p. 96).
F. Bonami, 'Maurizio Cattelan', London 2000 (original installation illustrated in colour, pp. 102-105).
Brescia, Galleria Massimo Minini, 'Maurizio Cattelan', 1997.
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Lot Essay

"What I'm really interested in is shifting the point of view, it is good for the artist to 'insinuate' himself into the open mesh of any system - not in a provocative and visible way, but mimetically, using their same mediums." (M. Cattelan, in: 'Parkett', No. 46, 1996, p. 198.)

Much of Cattelan's art is self-portraiture. From his ostrich with its head stuck firmly beneath the gallery floor and the donkey he exhibited alone with only a chandelier in a New York gallery to his 'Spermini' (little sperms), Cattelan's art is often reflective of his own enigmatic identity. Underlying this self-reflection is a profound doubt of his 'self' which he openly incorporates into his work, prompting the viewer to ask questions about his relevance in and to the contemporary art world. Questions which the viewers can and perhaps should also address to themselves. Developing Rimbaud's statement that "I is another", Cattelan transforms his own sense of otherness from the contemporary artworld into an expressive form.

'Spermini' are five hundred painted latex masks of the artist that were originally exhibited together at the Galleria Massimo Minini in Brescia in 1997 and later split into groups of twenty-five. Unlike Cattelan's animals - which are often substitute figures for the artist's emotive condition - these masks display only his exterior features. They are empty visages that despite being self-portraits actually reveal less about the artist himself. In this respect the 'Spermini' are a more whimsical expression of the faces - drawn by police artists from descriptions given to them by his friends - of his 'Super Noi' (Super Us) of 1992. The real Cattelan remains - as always - hidden and removed. Only his whimsical presence can be felt in the background behind this work - a humourous trace of its creator, that seems typically to be self-mocking, but, may also mock the viewer. For as the title and the concept of the 'Spermini' illustrate - they may just be an elaborate joke on the cliché of an artist openly 'jerking off' in public.

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