First exhibited in 1999 at the Kunsthalle Basel, the original artwork, which renders Pope John Paul II in life size, has been widely exhibited and is one of Cattelan’s most iconic works. The original installation featured the figure lying underneath a shattered skylight, shards of glass spread around him as if the meteor has just struck. The work sparked controversy almost instantly, with interpretations about its meaning ranging from existential questions to overt critique. The artist has responded to these interpretations ambiguously, stating that “I always thought art is not about explanations. It’s about opening possibilities” (Maurizio Cattelan in conversation with Alicia Bona, Everybody must get Stoned, online).
In La Nona Ora the artist fulfils the dual meaning of the word iconoclast, both as something that challenges tradition, seeking to break the stronghold of power, and as something that destroys religious images in opposition to the worship of false idols. Cattelan invites the viewer to question this dual-meaning and decide for themselves what is meant.
Cattelan’s gesture of dethroning the Holy Father is suffused with irony, for La Nona Ora preserves all the grotesque characteristics that animated Cattelan’s earlier works, which revolved around Italian identity and the tension of the country’s ever-shifting political and strictly religious landscape with changing populace and stagnant national economy. Despite the blasphemous content and violent imagery, this work could simply be the visual equivalent of a bad joke, ridden with the dark humour the artist is known for. Cattelan has often defended his work, claiming that it was not meant provocatively. Rather, it was “certainly not anti-Catholic, coming from me, who grew up singing in the church choir between saints and altar boys. The pope is more a way of reminding us that power, whatever power, has an expiration date, just like milk” (Maurizio Cattelan, in: Andrea Bellini, An Interview with Maurizio Cattelan, online).
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale