Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. . .

Maurizio Cattelan, All, Guggenheim Museum, New York

Maurizio Cattelan, All, Guggenheim Museum, New York

Remember, the whirlwind that swept Dorothy to Oz?  Well, you will experience that same feeling as you enter the rotunda of the Guggenheim and behold the 128 swirling pieces of the  Maurizio Cattelan exhibit hanging from the ceiling.  He’s very fond of taxidermy so beware the dead horse hanging almost eye level as you buy your tickets.  How else could you explain your hoof-to-the-eye shiner to the gang at happy hour?

The SigO found the dead horse repulsive and thus discounted the rest of the installation.  I found it interesting enough to ask, “Why is there a slouchy dead horse hanging in the Guggenheim?”  Then it occurred to me; this horse is “dead in the saddle.”  A grinning artist illustrates the horror of such an experience “in the flesh” so to speak. I braced myself for the onslaught of political satire/commentary along the lines of “politicians are corrupt and the political system is irrelevant to the poor” and the social message “the plight of the underclass sucks, we need to do something about it.”  I was pleasantly surprised because  Cattelan says it in such unexpected ways, some of which demand a chuckle, and I’m a great fan of being shocked and scandalized at art museums. Wait,  that never happens. . .
As you walk up the spiraling ramp that defines the exhibition space, you can view the collection of  Cattelan pieces from every angle and many stories.  Some have called this a “chandelier” or a “gallows” (many pieces are hung by ropes). Its devious fun just to imagine the guys who installed it struggling to get the dinosaur skeleton (in the stance of a dog begging to play or a cat maybe??) in just the right place, without sending the kiddie Hitler statue crashing to the ground.

2 Comments on “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. . .”

  1. SigO says:

    If I were to write an independent review, my title would be “Space Invader”. That’s what this piece did. It ran me over and took over my personal space. A traumatic looking taxidermy horse hanging at the entryway, really? I think this guy is loud and obnoxious. I didn’t like it. I’ve waited quite a while to respond, but there it is. To me, good art should be subtle, engaging and foster a two way discussion. Upon discovery, the statements made, even if political can be drastic even iconoclastic, but not in your ****ing face. This fella yells or mocks one with a dismissing at best, sinister at worse laugh. At least that’s my take and I think it’s a-okay to think that way too.

    • heatherit says:

      Well, I agree taxidermy on any level is quite disturbing. It’s a living death so to speak. A two foot striper bass hung above our mantle for years. In mid-jump, petrified forever. Everyone hated it but my dad who found it quite uplifting (since he had wrangled it from the waters of Lake Whitney). Ahhh. . . good times.


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