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Fine Arts: MGMT Live at Maurizio Cattelan’s Guggenheim Sculpture Show

By Bill Jenks

The band MGMT kicked off the first of a two-night stand in New York with a “one-of-a-kind, site-specific musical piece” on November 10, 2011, as part of the Guggenheim Museum’s launch of its stunning new exhibition of the art of Italian hyperrealist sculptor Maurizio Cattelan.

As MGMT grooved through a mostly instrumental hour of its signature neo-psychedelic music, the mostly trust-fund crowd of patrons who paid $200 each to get in were wowed by the bizarre works of wonder that Cattelan had strung from cables high above their heads in the Guggenheim’s towering atrium. One stuffed horse posed in bucking-bronco style, another strained to pull a heavily laden wagon; dinosaur skeletons, a reclining pope, a plummeting Pinocchio and more than 100 other striking works were suspended midair in a colossal mobile dangling in the cavernous space.

Roll over Damocles. Amid the spiraling ramps of the Guggenheim over MGMT’s heads hung several tons of hyperrealist sculptures.

Roll over Damocles. Amid the spiraling ramps of the Guggenheim over MGMT’s heads hung several tons of hyperrealist sculptures.

MGMT’s neon fixtures stretched all the way up the walls, bathing the band and the sculptures in a surrealistic light show that flashed and changed color to the music.

MGMT playing an original piece composed exclusively for the event at the Guggenheim Museum November 10.

MGMT playing an original piece composed exclusively for the event at the Guggenheim Museum November 10.

Ascending the Guggenheim’s iconic helical-spiral walkway that winds up and around the atrium, the wine-toting crowd was able to view the dangling masterpieces from every angle. Better to see that the pope was pinned under a meteor, the dog skeleton had a folded newspaper in its jaws and the elephant was wearing a white KKK robe.

Trust funder studying the famous hanging horse, falling Pinocchio and reclining pope at the Guggenheim Museum exhibition.

Trust funder studying the famous hanging horse, falling Pinocchio and reclining pope at the Guggenheim Museum exhibition.

Chief curator Nancy Spector noted, “Although an ironic humor threads much of his work, a profound meditation on mortality forms the core of Cattelan’s practice.” That and a lot of taxidermy and rope.

Cattelan’s work is highly controversial, with his supporters characterizing him as a “prankster and provocateur,” while some art critics fail to see the point.

Way up high hung fascist forearms, sleeping dog and middle finger flung.

Way up high hung fascist forearms, sleeping dog and middle finger flung.

You can check it out and decide for yourself. The exhibition is entitled “Maurizio Cattlelan: All,” reflecting the fact that this is the first retrospective of his work that spans his entire career.

The show runs through January 22, 2012, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum at 1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street), on the upper east side of Manhattan. For more info go to www.guggenheim.org.

 

Photos by Bill Jenks.

About Jenny Peters (142 Articles)
Jet Set Jen is the brainchild of Jenny Peters, a longtime freelance journalist whose career has spanned everything considered "Lifestyle" reporting, from movies and celebrities to fashion and fast cars, with plenty of food, wine and travel thrown in too. She currently contributes regularly to USA Today's 10Best.com, AARP.org, New York Magazine, Coast Magazine, Bask Magazine and numerous other newspapers, magazines and websites worldwide. She is a founding and voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (www.criticschoice.com), which annually honors the year's top films with the Critics' Choice Awards. Jenny and her crack cadre of reporters at Jet Set Jen offer up opinions, suggestions and insider scoops on the best that the world has to offer, to keep you on the cutting edge of that ever elusive pursuit of life, liberty, happiness – and fun, fun, fun.

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