All of Maurizio Cattelan

A photograph of Maurizio Cattelan hanging in the exhibit. Photo Credit: Jill Krementz.

Coming into the Guggenheim and seeing their latest art exhibit dangling from the ceiling is a bit unusual and overwhelming. Usually when viewing art, people look at every work individually which leaves time to think about it, but with Cattelan’s exhibition you have no choice but to take it all in at once. Maurizio Cattelan’s exhibit, Maurizio Cattelan: All, is on display until January 22nd. This of course is meant for the more cynical art lovers or the more open minded ones (and not the people in the middle) since Cattelan’s work is set on critiquing other artists. After this exhibition he said that he would be retiring, and who knows; maybe that’s for the best. [Read more…]

A Day at the Guggenheim

"Maurizio Cattelan: All" at the Guggenheim. Photo Credit: David Heald.

On a chilly Sunday afternoon in December, I decided to indulge my curiosity regarding advertisements that had appeared on the subway featuring a man hanging by his clothes on a coat rack of sorts.

The advertisements were for Maurizio Cattelan‘s exhibition: “Maurizio Cattelan: All.”  I found the title to be a bit vague out of context, and I did not understand why such a title would be chosen until I arrived at the exhibit itself. There to greet me was a giant installation of sculpted art that hung from the oculus of the museum.  According to the mobile platform application that accompanies the exhibit, the massive hanging installation “is comprised of every piece of art that Maurizio Cattelan has ever made.” That, along with the fact that Cattelan has announced his retirement from the art world alongside the unveiling of this exhibition, makes “All” a more than fitting title.

The unique architecture of the Guggenheim makes it the perfect place for Cattelan’s work to be displayed. The giant web of sculpted art fills the entire space, and stretches all the way from the bottom floor to the top, with a dead horse a mere few feet above patrons on the ground floor.  From an absurdly elongated pool table placed in the middle of the colossal hanging pillar-web of art, to a tree placed in a cube of dirt near the ground floor, “All” comprises a broad spectrum of Cattelan’s installation work, and is bound together by horse-themed art installations as well as Tourists, the original form of which is comprised of pigeons sitting in the rafters of the gallery it was displayed in. These pigeons now reside on the art itself, and can be found everywhere within the sculpture, cleverly placed on the gigantic metal framework.

After taking the time to browse the iPhone application at one of the “App Stations” throughout the museum, I took another look at the installation and thought, “there’s no way this could possibly be EVERY piece of art this man has ever made!” What really convinced me was one of the books that was written on the exhibit, which is also placed in sets of two around the museum’s walking spiral. There are actual over one hundred installations included in the sculpture, and when you take into account that his installations often included more than one piece of art, the number of total pieces skyrockets.

However, the most mind-blowing part is simply the presentation. Many of the pieces seemed incredibly heavy, and yet looked so delicate while hanging by white cords from the metal framework above. I believe that the white chord that was chosen to hang the pieces of art was a deliberate choice, as it forces one to walk along the spiral in order to view all of the pieces. It also adds an extra level to the work, and makes it feel much more intricate and otherworldly. It also establishes a firm base for the works as one single installation, and not hundreds of art pieces cobbled together. Everything feels as if it came together, cosmically, instead of being cobbled together. It is a feast for the eyes in several ways.

The side galleries at the Guggenheim were quite interesting as well. There were two sets of galleries devoted to pop-art, a gallery devoted to a private collection of classical art (which even presented two works by Picasso, as well as a Van Gogh work), a gallery comprised of flat color works, and a gallery focused on a single work called Painting with White Border, which was in many ways the 2-Dimensional version of “All”. The entire painting is a compilation of abstract motifs of various paintings done by the artist who created White Border, with a milky-white wave surrounding half of the painting, much as the spiral of the Guggenheim surrounds “All”.

All in all (pun intended), the Guggenheim has presented yet another compelling set of works. Although there are works in the side-galleries that I would love to describe, I can only say that with all great works of art, from massive installations to fifteen-inch paintings, seeing is believing.

“Maurizio Cattelan: All” will be on display until January 22, 2012.  Get your 2-for-$5 Guggenheim passes now through High 5!


Kandinsky Circles at the Gugg

Wassily Kandinsky. Several Circles. 1926. Oil on canvas. 140 x 140 cm. The Solomon R. Guggebheim Museum, New York, NY, USA.

Circe circle, dot dot.  This is what Kandinsky‘s…not.  While this particular rap lyric is true to the shapes that the Russian artist would explore later on in his career, those circles can’t be summarized in so many words.  No, the circumference of each round shape was deliberate, its placement on the canvas was planned and the color transparency was carefully pondered by Wassily.  He started from a point –  a desire to raise art to the level of music – and expanded it outward, into a whorl of tints, tones and thrilling compositions.  Perhaps, Euclid’s definition of a point could be applied to Kandinsky’s beginning: “A point is that which has no part.”  Kandinsky took that bottomless point and gave it a part while setting it apart – the point became a site for the compass tip, from which the circle could be drawn. [Read more…]


Modernity…whether you like it or not, it’s in. In today’s day and age people want to see innovative and experimental artwork. Some like brand new and modern, some like traditional with a twist.

Recently, I went to the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art otherwise known as MOMA. Both buildings are modern and clean cut, but they are extremely different. You know what they say, “First impressions are everything,” so before I even entered the buildings my impressions of both went different directions. [Read more…]

Orbits: A Spatial Symphonic Ritual

One conductor.   Two levels.  Three sections. Eighty-eight trombones.

Torrential showers could not thwart determined music appreciators from experiencing Orbits (1979) at the Guggenheim on Sunday, June 21st. The epic piece was composed by Pulitzer-Prize-winning Henry Brant and featured an organist (William Trafka), a soprano singer (Phyllis Bruce), and eighty individual parts for eighty-eight trombones. Sponsored by Make Music New York, the concert was free to all who dared to willingly be in a room with such an absurd number of noisy lower brass instruments — a surprisingly large group of audacious audience attendees (The entrance line went around 5th Ave., down 89th street, and continued down Madison Ave). [Read more…]