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Maurizio Cattelan
UNTITLED
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600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 1,515,000 GBP
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40
Maurizio Cattelan
UNTITLED
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Artist's Resale Right
Purchase of lots marked with this symbol will be subject to the payment of the artist's resale right.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 1,515,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London

Maurizio Cattelan
B. 1960
UNTITLED
resin, paint, human hair, garment packing tissues, wood and screws
235.6 by 137.2 by 47 cm. 92 7/8 by 54 by 18 1/2 in.
Executed in 2007, this work is number 2 from an edition of 3, plus 2 artist's proofs.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris
Private Collection, New York
Venus Over Manhattan, New York
Zadig & Voltaire Collection, Paris (acquired from the above)
Christie’s, New York, 17 May 2017, Lot 53B (consigned by the above)
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner

Exhibited

Bregenz, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Maurizio Cattelan, February - March 2008, (without crate, edition no. unknown) 
Pulheim-Stommeln, Synagoge Stommeln, Maurizio Cattelan, June - August 2008 (A.P. 1/2, edition of 3)
Houston, The Menil Collection, Maurizio Cattelan, February - August 2010, p. 115, illustrated in colour (during the installation of Maurizio Cattelan, Kunsthaus Bregenz, edition no. unknown)
Kiev, PinchukArtCentre, Sexuality and Transcendence, April - September 2010, p. 9, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Maurizio Cattelan: All, November 2011 - January 2012, p. 66 (text), p. 67, illustrated in colour (during the installation of Maurizio Cattelan, Kunsthaus Bregenz, edition no. unknown), and p. 238, illustrated in colour (installation view, Maurizio Cattelan, Synagoge Stommeln, Pulheim-Stommeln, 2008, A.P. 1/2, edition of 3)
Zurich, Kunsthaus Zürich, Riotous Baroque: From Cattelan to Zurbarán – Tributes to Precarious Vitality, June - September 2012, p. 41, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)
Warsaw, Center for Contemporary Art, Maurizio Cattelan: Amen, November 2012 - February 2013, p. 30, illustrated (during the installation of Maurizio Cattelan, Kunsthaus Bregenz, edition no. unknown)
New York, Venus Over Manhattan, Fétiche, February - April 2016 (the present work)
Paris, Monnaie de Paris, Maurizio Cattelan: Not Afraid of Love, October 2016 - January 2017 (edition no. unknown) 

Literature

Maurizio Cattelan and Brice Curiger, Die/ Die more/ Die Better/ Die Again, Paris 2008, p. 17 (text)
Ann-Katrin Günzel, ‘Maurizio Cattelan: Ecclesia und Synagoge’, Kunstforum International, No. 192, July - August 2008, p. 317, illustrated in colour (installation view, Maurizio Cattelan, Synagoge Stommeln, Pulheim-Stommeln, 2008, A.P. 1/2, edition of 3)

Catalogue Note

“To me the real question always has been: is there life before death? The thing that scares me to death is people around me being afraid of everything”

Maurizio Cattelan cited in: Thibaut Wychowanok, ‘We met Maurizio Cattelan: “Is this interview our first analysis session"’, Numéro, online.

Imbued with a profound sense of horror and urgency, Untitled is an image of death, subversion and iconoclasm powerfully rendered through Maurizio Cattelan’s unique language of extreme provocation. Executed in 2007, the life-size sculpture depicts a young girl dressed in a white nightgown, her hands nailed to wooden boards above her head in pseudo-crucifixion. The feeling of ambiguity and unease is augmented by the girl’s position in a large wooden crate; her back to the viewer and face hidden as if suffocated by the crate’s tissue-paper wrapping. The composition of Untitled originates from a 1977 photograph by Francesca Woodman, who, in a self-portrait, depicted herself hanging from a doorway in a white nightgown. The image appears to profoundly foreshadow the photographer’s own death, as she took her life in 1981 at the age of 22. The original version of the present work, installed at Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria in 2008, replicated Woodman’s well-known photograph almost precisely: here the resin sculpture of the girl – without crate – was hauntingly installed in a doorway atop a dark, foreboding staircase. Nancy Spector, curator of Cattelan’s major 2011-12 Guggenheim retrospective, explains, “When installing an unnervingly veristic resin version of this figure at Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria, a glimpse of the sculpture in its packing crate led Cattelan to decide to alter the work in future iterations. From then on he has exhibited the woman facedown in the crate with her hands pierced and arms and legs cordoned in place” (Nancy Spector cited in: Exh. Cat., New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Maurizio Cattelan: All, 2011-12, p. 66). In its current and final iteration Untitled is one of Cattelan’s most iconic and widely exhibited works, having been included in solo shows at renowned institutions, including Palazzo Reale, Milan (2010); the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2011-12); Kunsthaus Zürich (2012); and the Monnaie de Paris (2016-17).

The unmistakable allusion to crucifixion, suicide and torture inherent to Untitled illustrates Cattelan’s succinct interpretation of death, a theme relentlessly explored throughout the artist’s greater oeuvre. Although sarcastic humour is present throughout much of the artist's work – his 2011 Venice Biennale installation of two thousand defecating pigeons is a prescient example of the artist’s light-hearted and imaginative wit – a rumination on mortality lies at the very core of his practice. Bidibidobidiboo (1996) is an early example of his meditations on death; here a taxidermy squirrel has committed suicide in his kitchen, his gun having dropped to the floor. Novecento, executed in 1997, follows suit as an embalmed horse is hung from the ceiling by a sling, its head hung limp and eyes eerily vacant. Earlier works, such as the present Untitled, allow Cattelan to question his audience’s perception of death. The artist himself claims, “To me the real question always has been: is there life before death? The thing that scares me to death is people around me being afraid of everything” (Maurizio Cattelan cited in: Thibaut Wychowanok, ‘We met Maurizio Cattelan: “Is this interview our first analysis session"’, Numéro, December 2005, online). While an undertone of mortality pervades Cattelan’s visual lexicon, so too does a focus on religious iconography; the pseudo-crucifixion of Untitled here recalls a plethora of art historical religious imagery, from the crucifixion scenes of Diego Velázquez and Caravaggio, to those of Salvador Dalí and Marc Chagall. Cattelan’s La Nona Ora (1999) is an early example of the artist’s subversion of religion, for here a wax figure of Pope John Paul II has been hit by a meteorite, and the Pope’s body is left splayed across the floor in a scene of palpable agony. La Nona Ora and Untitled question our contemporary understanding of fear, death, religion and, indeed, the complexities of humankind: “The duty of art is to ask questions, not to provide answers. And if you want a clearer answer, then you’re in the wrong place” (Maurizio Cattelan cited in: ibid.).

A masterful provocateur, Cattelan seeks to subvert and disrupt established order, while questioning our perceptions and most fundamental beliefs. As a sculptural analogue to photography, the shackled woman of Untitled is rendered with a phenomenal degree of realism, and her spectre-like body veritably haunts us. Through its premonition of mortality, the present work, together with Cattelan’s greater repertoire, thus functions as “a cipher for the human condition, the inevitability of death, and the power of the image to seduce and horrify with this existential truth” (Nancy Spector cited in: op. cit., p. 113).

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London