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.
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.
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.
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.
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.