There are plenty of provocative, witty, and/or outrageous individual pieces of art in Maurizio Cattelan's career-spanning (and, since he's vowed to retire after it closes, career-ending) exhibition that just opened at the Guggenheim. Simply, aptly titled All, Maurizio Cattelan: All supposedly includes every single work he's ever created. Cattelan's show would be newsworthy and entertaining even it was hung in the usual Guggenheim manner, with works spread throughout the recessed galleries of the museum's rotunda. But thanks to an inspired idea and some jaw-dropping engineering by Gilsanz Murrat Steficek (GMS), Maurizio Cattelan: All at the Guggenhiem is one of the most original, crowd-pleasing exhibitions we've seen all year.
The gimmick here at the Guggenheim's Maurizio Cattelan: All, as you can see from the pictures, is that every piece of art in the show is hanging from the museum's ceiling. All of it, all 123 works, strung up to the struts just below the Guggenheim's great oculus, and dangling down at varying heights. So as you walk up (or down) the Guggenheim's signature spiral, instead of looking out, you look in: at the stuffed burro and the super-elongated foosball table; at the Pope felled by a meteor and John F. Kennedy in a coffin; at Cattelan's many scupltural self-portraits, often engaged in childish behavior; at an elephant dressed as a ghost (or is it a Klansman?) and a huge-headed Picasso springing from a Lichtenstein. The result is dizzying, thrilling, magical.
In addition to being both visually stunning and an engineering marvel (we can only imagine the stress that GMS engineers went through, hanging multi-million-dollar pieces of art high above the hard Guggenheim floor… and, of course, above people's heads!), the Maurizio Cattelan show is also extremely viewer-friendly. We went last Saturday, mid-afternoon and, no surprise, there was a line out the door. But because the sight-lines at Maurizio Cattelan: All are virtually unlimited, the big crowds didn't effect our ability to actually see the art at all. And it also seems like it would be really fun to go with a crowd, and with kids, both because of the art itself and the whole "I Spy" aspect of the way it's hung. Really a treat, all around.
Maurizio Cattelan: All, at the Guggenheim Museum details
Maurizio Cattelan: All, is at the Guggenheim Museum from now through January 22, 2012. The Guggenheim Museum is located on Fifth Avenue and 89th Street, and is open every Sunday through Wednesday, and then on Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., and on Saturdays until 7:45 p.m. Closed Thursday. For more information about the Guggenheim and the Maurizio Cattelan exhibition, please see the museum's website, here.