Born in Padua, Italy, in 1960, Cattelan is one of the most popular, as well as one of the most controversial, artist of the contemporary art scene. With no formal training, Cattelan considers himself an “art worker” rather than an artist and has often been characterized as the court jester of the art world. This label speaks not only to his irreverence to both art and its institutions, but also to his playful and provocative use of material, objects and gestures set to challenge the socially ingrained norms and hierarchies.
Since early in his career, Cattelan unleashed his mockery on figures in the art world. He began to create his hyper-realistic figural sculptures in the late 1990s, and through this, he first achieved critical acclaim on an international scale in New York with La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour, 1999), a wax sculpture of Pope John Paul II hit by a meteorite – a prime example of Cattelan’s unique talent at uniting humor and the macabre. In 2010, his permanent outdoor sculpture “L.O.V.E.” installed in Piazza Affari, Milan, triggered the re-appropriation by citizens of the square where the Italian stock exchange has its headquarters.
Solo exhibitions of Cattelan’s work have been curated by institutions throughout the world: The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2000); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2001); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2002–03); P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, now MoMA PS1, New York (2002); Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (2003); Musée du Louvre, Paris (2004); Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2008); The Menil Collection, Houston (2010); and Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2013). His work has also been featured in the Venice Bienniale (1993, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2003, and 2011). Cattelan lives and works in New York.