Lot 43
  • 43

Maurizio Cattelan

1,200,000 - 1,800,000 USD
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  • Maurizio Cattelan
  • Untitled
  • stainless steel, wood, electric motor, light, bell and computer 
  • 23 1/2 x 33 5/8 x 18 5/8 in. 59.7 x 85.4 x 47.3 cm.
  • Executed in 2001, this work is number three from an edition of ten plus two artist's proofs.


Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris
Private Collection
Phillips de Pury & Company, London, October 14, 2006, Lot 46
Acquired by the present owner from the above


Yokohama, Pacifico Yokohama Exhibition Hall, International Triennale of Contemporary Art: Mega Wave - Towards a New Synthesis, September - November 2001, p. 26, illustrated in color (in installation) (edition no. unknown)
Paris, Galerie Perrotin, on long term exhibition, 2001 - 2004 (another example) 
New York, Marianne Boesky Gallery and Friedrich Petzel Gallery, Penetration, June - August 2002 (another example)
Paris, Galerie Perrotin, Opening of the Gallery Space at 76 Rue de Turenne, on long term exhibition, January 2005 - present (another example)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Human Nature: Contemporary Art from the Collection, March - July 2011 (another example)
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Maurizio Cattelan: All, November 2011 - January 2012, cat. no. 85, p. 228, illustrated in color (the present example)
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Lifelike, February 2012 - October 2013, pl. 76, pp. 154 and 184, illustrated (edition no. unknown) 


Frances Richard, "Marianne Boesky Gallery and Friedrich Petzel Gallery - Reviews - Penetration, curated by Mark Fletcher," Artforum, vol. 41, no. 2, October 2002, p. 154 (text)
Francesco Bonami, Nancy Spector, Barbara Vanderlinden and Massimiliano Gioni, eds., Maurizio Cattelan, London, 2003, pp. 176-177, illustrated in color (in installation at the International Triennale of Contemporary Art, Yokohama) (edition no. unknown)
Meghan Dailey, "Peter Norton: Collecting with a Conscience," Guggenheim Magazine, Winter 2004, n.p.
Exh. Cat., New York, The FLAG Art Foundation, Size DOES Matter, 2010, pp. 12 and 13, illustrated in color (another example)


Please note the condition report for this lot will be available upon installation in our exhibition, opening May 8th.
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

Exhibiting a coruscating and curiously subversive wit, Maurizio Cattelan’s Untitled from 2001 is a consummate example of the artist’s perpetually inventive and relentlessly incisive examination into the surreal subterranean current lurking beneath the banality of daily life. Inverting perceptions of scale and reality, Cattelan’s miniature elevator doors appear fully operational with his signature, wryly precise attention to detail. The ankle-height gleaming industrial doors open and close as the number boards above the sliding doors expectedly light up and change floors to suggest the fictional ascent and descent of the lift through invisible stories behind the wall. Appropriating the illusionary quality of a fairytale through the decisively adult visual vocabulary of a humdrum office reality, Cattelan’s Untitled spins a world tangled in reason, logic, and rationality through the exhilarating potential of magic.

In its thrilling manipulation of human proportions and compelling dreamlike vision, Untitled is reminiscent of imaginative fables in which alternate Lilliputian realities exist just beneath the fabric of earthly life, such as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865). Cattelan’s practice engages in this twisted humor but orients it away from the land of fantasy to that of a mundane office corridor, archetypal of the artist’s impulse to corrupt expectations of human existence. The sculpture capsizes any preconceived notions of space, opening a fictive dimension of wonder and creating an exhilarating bodily sensation of monumentality for the viewer. As Massimiliano Gioni explained, “Cattelan’s objects seem to dwell in an intermediate zone, a no-man’s land. They clearly occupy the same space as their viewers and yet they step back from it, enclosed in a suspended, unreal atmosphere that is obviously fictional and constructed. Most often, Cattelan’s work forces viewers to modify not only their beliefs, but also their physical collocation in space… No matter how aggressive and violent, Cattelan’s works always tend to undermine their own authority by choosing a marginal position. They never stand upright: they are literally and metaphorically de-based, deprived of a pedestal, always in a precarious position. They are sculptures, but they systematically refuse the moral and formal weight of monuments.” (Massimiliano Gioni, "Maurizio Cattelan—Rebel with a Pose" in Maurizio Cattelan, London and New York, 2003, p. 173)

Maurizio Cattelan has been one of the most imaginative and consistently surprising artists working on the international art scene since the late 1980s, producing an extraordinarily diverse and innovative body of work that forces us to question the way in which we view and understand the world around us. Cattelan can arguably be regarded as an ‘anti-artist,’ subverting the accepted methods and ideals behind the creation of more traditional art: “I am not an artist. I really don’t consider myself an artist.” (The artist cited in an interview with Nancy Spector in Francesco Bonami, et. al., Maurizio Cattelan, London, 2000, p. 9) Born in 1960 in Padua, Cattelan’s youth coincided with a time of political and social upheaval within Italy: this spirit of insurgence and the potential for change seems to infuse the artist’s oeuvre, imbuing his works with a sense of rebellion against sociological, cultural, and political norms. As a result, Cattelan’s individual installations, varied as they are, can be interpreted not only as the work of a brilliantly provocative creative force whose work consistently challenges accepted boundaries and transcends the more familiar concepts of art history, but also arguably as a profound examination of the definition of ‘normality’ itself.

Moving beyond the outwardly self-effacing humor of Untitled’s theatrically absurd dimensions, Cattelan’s sculpture disorients in more ways than one. Never a stranger to subversive political statements that slyly reveal the unstable underbellies of contemporary life, Cattelan’s Untitled focuses a critical eye on the structural reality of that which surrounds us but is perpetually ignored for its familiarity. Ultimately, Untitled brilliantly encapsulates Cattelan’s utterly distinctive and remarkably diverse artistic practice, and can be seen as a highly significant instance of the artist’s acerbic subversion of creative, cultural and social traditions.