10 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Maurizio Cattelan & Pierpaolo Ferrari’

When it comes to contemporary art, few names stand out as prominently as Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari. These Italian artists have made a significant impact on the art world with their outrageously creative works. Despite their prominence, there are many aspects about these two intriguing figures that many of us might not know. This article will delve into 10 vital yet overlooked details about Cattelan and Ferrari. You’ll find each revelation adds another layer to your understanding of the duo.

1. Cattelan Once Worked in a Morgue

Most people know Maurizio Cattelan for his playful, humorous, and often controversial sculptures. However, few people know about his early life, particularly his unusual first job. Born in Padua, Italy, in 1960, Cattelan worked in a morgue in his early twenties. This unique experience has significantly influenced his artwork, particularly in his exploration of themes like death, iconoclasm, and the human condition.

One can notice Cattelan’s fascination for the macabre subtly hinted in his pieces like ‘Bidibidobidiboo’, a taxidermized squirrel installed in a mini-kitchen contemplating its mortality. His stint at a morgue reflects his continued philosophical inquiry into life and beyond.

2. Ferrari Never Planned to Become a Photographer

Pierpaolo Ferrari is known worldwide for his distinctive and eye-popping photography, characterized by his surreal compositions and intense, vibrant colours. However, he didn’t plan to become a photographer. He studied economics before getting into art direction and advertising. This background serves him well in his current endeavours, as his work is known for its detailed art direction and visual narrative.

Ferrari’s transition to photography was an organic process driven by his love for art and his keen eye for innovation. Today, he is renowned for his extraordinary and visually opulent photographs, which have been featured in numerous international exhibitions and publications.

3. Cattelan’s Most Provocative Work

Known for his dark humor, Maurizio Cattelan created one of his most controversial works in 1999: a sculpture of Pope John Paul II hit by a meteorite. Titled ‘La Nona Ora’ (The Ninth Hour), the life-sized effigy depicts the Pope writhing in pain on the Vatican’s red carpet. It sparked outrage and heated debates about art, religion, and censorship when first exhibited.

Such criticism didn’t deter Cattelan, who believes that humour and provocation can be valid artistic tools to question societal norms and mainstream narratives. Controversy has often surrounded his works, making him a popular and infamous figure in contemporary art.

4. Collective Work – “Toilet Paper” Magazine

In 2010, Cattelan and Ferrari joined forces to create one of the strangest and most revolutionary contemporary art publications: “Toilet Paper” magazine. This bi-annual, no textual publication is filled with surreal and provocative photographs by Ferrari based on themes and art direction by Cattelan.

Their collaborative work on “Toilet Paper” has been critically acclaimed for its innovative approach to visual narrative and art direction, bringing a new angle to visual storytelling. It is a unique blend of commercial photography, twisted narratives, and surreal dream sequences.

5. The Artists Behind the Gucci Campaign

Cattelan and Ferrari were the creative minds behind Gucci’s iconic Spring/Summer 2018 campaign. They brought their signature humor and surrealism to the project, creating a series of eccentric, high-octane images and short films that drew heavily from classic science fiction aesthetics.

The campaign was lauded by many, reflecting how the duo’s bold and playful approach could transcend the art world and make a strong impact on global pop culture. Illustrated with aliens, dinosaurs, and models dressed in Gucci, the campaign is a testament to their creativity and ability to break stereotypes.

6. Maurizio’s ‘Comedian’ – World’s Most Expensive Banana

In 2019, Cattelan took the art world by storm with his work ‘Comedian’ – a fresh banana duct-taped to a wall that sold for a staggering $120,000 at Miami’s Art Basel. The work stirred a global conversation about value, commodification, and the nature of art itself.

The piece is emblematic of Cattelan’s irreverent approach to art, blending humor and satire to critique sociopolitical norms. The banana, a common, everyday object transformed into a high-priced artwork, prompts us to question our perception of value and the art market’s bizarreness.

7. Ferrari’s Non-profit Organization – Le Dictateur

Besides his photography and collaborations with Cattelan, Ferrari also established a non-profit organization named ‘Le Dictateur’. The Milan-based organization aims to promote photography and art by hosting exhibitions and publishing books.

Le Dictateur serves as a creative platform where like-minded visionaries can communicate, collaborate, and influence one another. The organization is a testament to Ferrari’s commitment to nurturing art, demonstrating his belief that artists can effect transformative changes in society.

8. Significant Collaboration with Diesel

Cattelan and Ferrari collaborated with the Italian fashion brand Diesel on their ‘Successful Living’ project in 2008. The collection combined Diesel’s creative innovation and the duo’s provocative artistry and sense of humor.

This fusion resulted in a unique range of products, from lamps shaped like bombs to stuffed animal rugs. The collection was another testament to their ability to fuse art and everyday commercial products creatively.

9. Cattelan Announced His Artistic ‘Retirement’

Cattelan shocked the art world in 2011 by announcing his retirement. His major final exhibition, ‘All’ at the Guggenheim Museum, featured a massive installation of his life’s work hung from the museum’s ceiling, signalling a theatrical end to his active artistic career.

Despite this announcement, he continues to be an influential figure in the art world, coming out of retirement for projects such as Toilet Paper magazine and the infamous ‘Comedian’. His proclaimed retirement seems to be as much a critique of the commercialization of the art world as an end to his art production.

10. Pierpaolo’s Making Marks in the Film World

Already established in the realms of fashion, art, and photography, Ferrari is now making waves in the film industry. He directed the short film, ‘1942’, which debuted at the New York Fashion Film Festival.

Ferrari’s film, characterized by his distinctive surreal and vibrant style, has gained recognition by fans and critics alike. This latest venture is another testament to Ferrari’s ability to adapt and innovate in different creative fields.

In conclusion, there is so much more to Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari than what meets the eye. They are not only transformational artists but also incisive commentators on society, culture, and the art world. For more about these intriguing artists, check out these links:

Toilet Paper Magazine

Maurizio Cattelan: All – Guggenheim

Le Dictateur

Gucci