Lot 128
  • 128


120,000 - 180,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari (TOILETPAPER)
  • La Nona Ora
  • marble and silver
  • 17.2 by 57.8 by 21.9 cm. 6 3/4 by 22 3/4 by 8 5/8 in.
  • Executed in 2003, this work is number 1 from an edition of 10.


Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by David Teiger in 2003


Anon.,'Top Cat', Tate Arts and Culture, November/December 2003, p. 41, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Maurizio Cattelan continuously aims to provoke his viewers with a mocking attitude towards political leaders, religious authorities and even the system of contemporary art and its canons. In La Nona Ora, one of the artist's most seminal works, Cattelan brazenly commits aesthetic epistemological heresy by dropping a meteor on the holiest man in the Roman Catholic tradition, and titles the work The Ninth Hour, the moment that Jesus Christ was crucified, according to the Liturgy of the Hours. The present work incorporates many of the artist’s preoccupations with reoccurring themes from his oeuvre, including his acute criticism of power, which has often proven controversial. Cattelan, however, claims that his art merely holds up a mirror to society, without commentary or judgement, yet his unflinching honesty and comedic air offers incisive critiques of world events and personalities. 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).

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.