Maurizio Cattelan (B. 1960)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more Property of a Distinguished Italian Collector
Maurizio Cattelan (B. 1960)


Maurizio Cattelan (B. 1960)
stainless steel, wood, electric motor, light, bell and computer
elevators: 13¾ x 22 3/8in. (34.9 x 59.3cm.)
overall: 23½ x 33 5/8 x 18 7/8in. (59.8 x 85.4 x 47.9cm.)
Executed in 2001, this work is from an edition of ten plus two artist's proofs
Massimo de Carlo, Milan.
Private Collection, USA.
Anon. sale, Christie's London, 21 June 2007, lot 558.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
F. Richard, 'Marianne Boesky Gallery and Friedrich Petzel Gallery - Reviews - Penetration', in Artforum, vol. 41, no. 2, October 2002, p. 154.
F. Bonami, N. Spector, B. Vanderlinden and M. Gioni (eds.), Maurizio Cattelan, London 2003 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 176-177).
M. Dailey, 'Peter Norton: Collecting with a Conscience' in Guggenheim Magazine, Winter 2004.
Yokohama, Pacifico Yakohama Exhibition Hall, International Triennale of Contemporary Art: Mega Wave - Towards a New Synthesis, 2001, p. 390 (another from the edition exhibited).
Paris, Galerie Perrotin, on permanent exhibition, 2001-2015 (another from the edition exhibited).
New York, Marianne Boesky Gallery and Friedrich Petzel Gallery, Penetration, 2002 (another from the edition exhibited).
New York, The FLAG Art Foundation, Size DOES Matter, 2010, p. 83 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated in colour, pp. 12-13).
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Human Nature: Contemporary Art from the Collection, 2011 (another from the edition exhibited).
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Maurizio Cattelan: All, 2011-2012, no. 85, p. 249 (another from edition exhibited, illustrated in colour, p. 228).
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Lifelike, 2012-2013, no. 76, p. 184 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated in colour, p. 154).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Mariolina Bassetti
Mariolina Bassetti

Lot Essay

Focusing a critical eye on one of the most fundamental, and yet often overlooked, elements of our contemporary experience – the daily elevator rides that transport us to and from the upper levels of high rise buildings – Maurizio Cattelan’s Untitled transforms an anonymous, mundane vehicle of transit into a surreal, playful sculpture.Created in 2001, this work presents the viewer with a meticulously constructed miniature elevator bank, a common feature of office and apartment blocks throughout the world. From the sleek chrome doors and mirrored interiors, to their fluorescent lighting systems, ‘authentic’ sounds and functioning controls, the artist meticulously recreates each feature to the smallest detail. Installed directly into a wall, the ankle-high work transforms the quotidian corporate lobby into a toy-like sculptural intervention, introducing a distinct strangeness and absurdity to the space it inhabits, undercutting the familiarity of the elevator with an inherent sense of the impossible.

Recalling the worlds of fairytales and cartoon characters, the fantastic realms of Tom Thumb, Lewis Carroll, and Tom and Jerry, the miniature elevators demonstrate the imaginative potential of lending familiar objects a strange surreality through a basic, but dramatic, shift in scale – a device Cattelan employs in several artworks. While the elevator chambers do not in fact function behind the wall, sound effects convey a sense that the elevator is fully operational, their never-ending chiming and whirring suggesting an unseen movement through the wall. Through his miniature recreation of the elevator, Cattelan invites us to suspend our disbelief, begging us to imagine the mouse or the ‘mini-me’ who might use such a fictitious contraption. Like Untitled (2000), which features a small arched hole in a wall, complete with a door, a porch light, a bin and the sounds of a domestic argument emanating from within, the elevators raise the incredible possibility of another world existing just out of sight, a universe of Lilliputian characters hiding behind the walls. The movements of the lift and the imagined realms to which it travels, invoke hidden realities, hidden meanings just beyond the viewer’s reach. As the chime sounds and its doors whoosh open, the elevator seems to offer us access to this miniature, fantastical world, perhaps a route to where Cattelan’s deckchair-lounging taxidermied mice (Untitled, 1997) spend their days, or the building where his suicidal squirrel sits slumped over its kitchen table (Bidibidobidiboo, 1996).

Key to achieving this sense of the surreal is the combination of the intense familiarity of the miniature elevator, which Cattelan realises through his careful attention to detail, and the oddity of its scale. In an interview with Nancy Spector, the artist explained that it was often everyday experiences, the environments he found himself in, the events he witnessed, which inspired his artistic creations: ‘I’m always borrowing pieces – crumbs really – of everyday reality…’ (Cattelan, ‘Interview with Nancy Spector,’ in F. Bonami, N. Spector, B. Vanderlinden, M. Gioni, Maurizio Cattelan, New York, 2005, p. 17). By delving into the world of lived experience for his subject matter, Cattelan manages to create something at once identifiable and commonplace, and yet almost ridiculously strange in its appearance. Using the miniature scale to disrupt our traditional experience of the elevator, Untitled challenges our understanding of not only the sculpture, but also the very space we inhabit. By pressing the button in the centre of the two elevator doors, the viewer becomes part of a surreal theatrical mise-en-scène of the artist’s making - the simple action of ‘calling the lift’ causes us to become an integral proponent in the realisation of the artwork, while also underscoring the absurdity of the situation, as we remain unable to enter the carriage and gain access to these other worlds beyond the wall. Infused with a distinctly playful air, Cattelan re-infuses the elevator with a childlike wonder and whimsy, whilst also creating a sense of the absurd and the uncanny, as these ‘other worlds’ remain beyond our reach.

‘I’m really seduced by images that already belong to everybody, very public, basic images, things that have an international language. The more you go basic, the more you are close to icons.’ (Cattelan, quoted in N. Spector, Maurizio Cattelan: All, exh. cat. Guggenheim, New York, p. 107)

‘…art is a collision of different systems and levels of reality…’ (Cattelan, ‘Blown Away – Blown to Pieces: Conversation with Massimiliano Gioni and Jens Hoffmann, 1999,’ in F. Bonami, N. Spector, B. Vanderlinden, M. Gioni, Maurizio Cattelan, New York, 2005, p. 142).

‘I’m interested in reality, the one we see every day: a thought, something you saw on TV or read in the papers, something that left an impression while surfing on the Web. Images have the strength to summarize the present and perhaps to transform it into an anticipation of the future. Perhaps my work is just a magnifying lens that allows you to see the hidden details of reality’
(M. Cattelan)


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