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Maurizio Cattelan (b. 1960)
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Maurizio Cattelan (b. 1960)

Untitled (Picasso)

Maurizio Cattelan (b. 1960)
Untitled (Picasso)
painted fibreglass, expanding foam, plastic, steel and clothing
85 x 50 x 20¾in. (215.8 x 127 x 53cm.)
Executed in 1998, this work is from an edition of two
Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London.
Private Collection, Chicago.
Giraud, Pissarro, Ségalot, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Les Grands Spectacles-120 Jahre Kunst und Massenkultur, exh. cat., Salzburg, Museum für Moderne Kunst, 2005 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 8).
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Lot Essay

Larger than life, with a deliberately caricatured head, Untitled (Picasso) is a strange vision of arguably the most important and influential artist of the Twentieth Century. Picasso, the veteran painter, has been reduced to something toy-like, to a cartoonish entity, the dignity of his station deftly punctured as Cattelan continues his gleeful systematic desecration of the world of art, knocking idols from their pedestals wherever he can. This giant, exaggerated, man-size toy shows art's great giant deliberately deflated, reduced from the hallowed heights of grand master of the avant garde to the most populist level.

In this light, it is crucial to note that Untitled (Picasso) relates to an artistic action that Cattelan orchestrated in New York in 1998. There, outside the Museum of Modern Art, a man greeted visitors dressed in costume, perfectly resembling a moving version of the present work. This was far from an official gesture on the part of MoMA. Instead, Cattelan was continuing his long and distinguished history of infiltrating the respectable galleries and museum spaces and sending out his own subversive message. In this case, the figure of Picasso greeting museum-goers deliberately mimicked the actions of the actors in Mickey Mouse characters in Disneyworld. Cattelan was showing the modern equivalency between so-called high and low culture. In highlighting the increasing tendencies of museums and cultural bodies to 'sell themselves' as entertainment, Cattelan managed to attack one of his favourite targets, the market side of art. He was illustrating the raw economics that increasingly drive museums who are ever keen to have paying visitors come through their doors. Likewise, Untitled (Picasso) shows a commercialisation ad absurdum of high art, which has here been packaged in an all-too-believable kitsch format. And it is precisely the fact that this is a believable presentation of Picasso in the modern world, the fact that visitors queued to be photographed with the actor at MoMA, that justifies the ever-iconoclastic and ever-irreverent artist's assault and essentially and ironically proves his point.

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