Lot 39
  • 39

Maurizio Cattelan

2,500,000 - 3,500,000 USD
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  • Maurizio Cattelan
  • Stadium
  • wood, acrylic, steel and plastic
  • 47 1/4 x 276 x 27 1/2 in. 120 x 700 x 70 cm.
  • Executed in 1991.


Galleria Massimo de Carlo, Milan
Private Collection, Milan
Acquired by the present owner from the above


Bologna, Galleria comunale d'arte moderna, Anni Novanta, March - September 1991
Kassel, Museum Fridericianum, Nachtschattengewächse: The Nightshade Family, May - August 1993, p. 65, illustrated in color (installation view in Bologna, 1991)
London, Tate Gallery, Abracadabra: International Contemporary Art, July - September 1999, cat. no. 1, p. 26, illustrated in color (installation view in Bologna, 1991) and p. 27, illustrated (in Cesena 47 - A.C. Forniture Sud 12)
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Maurizio Cattelan: All, November 2011 - January 2012, cat. no. 12, p. 189, illustrated in color (installation view in Bologna, 1991) and pp. 48-49, fig. 11, illustrated (in Cesena 47 - A.C. Forniture Sud 12)


Roberto Pinto, "Maurizio Cattelan: Un artista abusivo sempre presente," Flash Art (Italian Edition, Milan) 24, no.164, October - November 1991, p. 82, illustrated in color
Exh. Cat., Rivoli-Turin, Castello di Rivoli, Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, soggettoSoggetto: Una nuova relazione nell’ arte di oggi, 1994, illustrated (photograph of the work, in installation)
Exh. Cat., Brétigny sur-Orgé, Centre d'Art Brétigny sur-Orgé (and travelling), Maurizio Cattelan, 1997, p. 25, illustrated, p. 77, illustrated (installation view in Bologna, 1991) and p. 52, illustrated (in Cesena 47 - A.C. Forniture Sud 12)
Francesco Bonami, Nancy Spector and Barbara Vanderlinden, Maurizio Cattelan, London, 2000 (reprinted London/New York, 2003), p. 38, illustrated, p. 54, illustrated in color (installation view in Bologna, 1991) and pp. 56-57 (in Cesena 47 - A.C. Forniture Sud 12)


This work is in very good condition. Close inspection shows various minute rubs, indentations and hairline scratches in places to the metal and plastic surfaces, as to be expected with the working nature of the sculpture. There are some minute specks of assorted and superficial debris beneath the clear plastic of the playing surface, and a small number of small losses at intervals to the imitation wood base and painted metal legs.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Maurizio Cattelan’s Stadium is an historic work, representing the very first major sculpture of the artist’s notoriously provocative career. Stretching in excess of six meters in length, the present work was created in 1991 to facilitate an extreme game of foosball comprising twenty-two players divided between two teams of eleven each – the full number required in a traditional soccer match. Orchestrated by Cattelan, the match took place in the guise of an artistic happening at Galleria comunale d’arte moderna, Bologna. At once recalling the strategies of Joseph Beuys in utilizing performance as a means of enacting social transformation, this event marked the finale of a project that reverberated deeply with contemporary political circumstances in Italy, namely the growing North African diaspora. By playfully reducing the troubling issues of prejudice, cheap labor and growing xenophobia into a game of table soccer, Stadium represents a seminal early work that crystallized the blue print for Cattelan’s controversial yet critically acclaimed mature practice. Wrapped in humor and wit, the disconcerting political undercurrent of Cattelan’s broader intervention resonates strongly within the stilled expanse of Stadium. Recently exhibited as part of the landmark full-career retrospective held at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (an event that heralded the artist’s self-imposed retirement) Stadium today stands as a multifaceted and powerful monument to Cattelan’s first important collaborative project.

During the early 1990s, the swell of migrant workers and refugees triggered a phenomenon previously unproblematic in Italy: racism started to become a severe national issue. Since the 1980s the number of North African migrants living and working in Italy had significantly increased, sustained by a strong and mounting demand for cheap labor. Where Italy had previously been a great exporter of labor during the first half of the Twentieth Century, the proliferation of a home-grown export-oriented industry in Italy at the turn of the century called for an unprecedented volume of seasonal, low-skilled and flexible employment; a demand readily met by an increasing migrant community. In response to the social unease surrounding this new phenomenon and coinciding with the founding of the Northern League - a political party that exploited public resentment over immigration - Cattelan formed and coached his own soccer team recruited entirely from the proliferating populace of North African migrants. Naming his team A.C. Forniture Sud (Southern Furniture Suppliers Football Club), Cattelan’s immigrant squad collectively alluded to a seemingly endless supply of willing and exploitable labor. That the team competed in the region of Emilia-Romagna and lost every game it took part in further surmises the subjugation of a defeated and powerless minority. Indeed, as the project surrounding A.C. Forniture Sud attests, failure and a scrutiny of power hierarchies began to emerge as dominant tropes within the larger spectrum of Cattelan’s oeuvre.

With the legendary game of foosball that was to shortly follow, Cattelan’s politically loaded farce reached an apogee, as documented in Cattelan's photographs of the event (see lot 64). Exercised within a gallery setting as part-protest and part-performance, Cattelan’s outrageously inflated common-room game boldly parodied this new wave of xenophobia in Italy. The match pitted two teams against each other solely delineated by race: an all-white, all-Italian side competed with Cattelan’s very own all-black team, A.C. Forniture Sud. Standing opposite each other uniformly regaled in opposing team kits, the stark racial division of players huddled over Stadium’s narrow and absurdly extended table-top pitch made for an undeniably comical sight, a farce compounded by the team’s inevitable and prescribed failure. Within the context of Cattelan’s live football match, the maneuvring of miniature color-coded figurines across a tabletop came to invoke a much larger metaphor for the greater theatre of world politics. By flippantly enacting these newfound racial tensions through Italy’s national obsession with soccer, Cattelan masterfully exercised a contentious balance between recreation, entertainment and indignant social critique.

Bearing the sponsored branding of the invented company ‘Rauss’, as seen emblazoned in orange on the all-black kit of A.C. Forniture Sud, the symbolic value of Cattelan’s soccer team casts further political allusions to the troublesome history of racial oppression in Europe. Furthermore, by locating Italy’s contemporary problems within the remit of gameplay and specifically using the word ‘Rauss’ to confront these serious issues, Cattelan’s A.C. Forniture Sud project has forged an incendiary lineage of sculptural works that scrutinize both contemporary politics alongside the tarnished recent history. Entailing the diminutive and submissive reimagining of Adolf Hitler, Him, 2001, alongside the notorious address of three disembodied Fascist salutes, Ave Maria from 2007, Cattelan’s daringly irreverent and politically inflammatory canon poses an iconoclastic challenge to icons of power. Standing at the very beginning of this extraordinary artistic dialogue, to quote Nancy Spector, “…the A.C. Forniture Sud enterprise perfectly demonstrates how Cattelan can wed the preposterous and the incisive to create a work that reverberates with profound cultural and social implications.” (Nancy Spector in Exh. Cat. New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Maurizio Cattelan: All, 2011-12, p. 50)