Isha and I only had two main agendas for our last day in Paris: to visit the Monnaie de Paris and to have lunch with our friend Barbi Chan!
Monnaie de Paris was recommended by Mich Dulce who showed us some photos from the current exhibit. Maurizio Cattelan is an Italian artist born in 1960. If art is supposed to evoke emotion, then Cattelan definitely succeeds in his shocking displays.
La Nona Ora is among Cattelan’s most well-known works. The realistic wax statue of Pope John Paul II crushed by a meteorite forms part of an elaborate theatrical tableau. The stricken Pope, dressed in formal ecclesiastical gowns, and holding on to his ferule, lies prostrate on a broad, red carpet covering the whole Salon d’Honneur. Named for the time when Christ died on the cross, the dramatic image of physical suffering is a powerful vision, symbol of his duty and the burden that he weighs on his shoulders. The Pope is one of many authority figures that Cattelan has targeted in his practice, and the artist denies that La Nona Ora is specifically anti-Catholic. The papal figure is also the one of the father, and today Cattelan can “say that the pope is linked to (his) dad, the father figure, but the work didn’t come up that way. Initially my idea was closer to that which had brought me to explore safety deposit boxes, that is to say, to stage the contrast between power and vulnerability.” — Monnaie de Paris
“The non-traditional canine family structure is far more acceptable today than ever before.” — Inez and Vinoodh, Photographers
Though the mise-en-scène suggests that a burglary is afoot, the details are ambiguous: is Cattelan planning a theft or is he simply seeking a more direct relationship with the art by circumventing the institution’s structured viewing? In the latter interpretation, he offers visitors a fantasy of alternate access points, creating a surreptitious channel between what is outside and inside the exhibition and encouraging viewers to look with fresh eyes. Alternately, Cattelan self-consciously cast himself as an outsider, thief, or impostor amid established art history. This interpretation resonates with the recurring theme of anxiety in his work, illustrating the character who fell into the art world by chance. — Monnaie de Paris
“I’m from the same generation as Maurizio Cattelan and, like him, I experienced an extremely coercive educational system with corporal punishment at its core. ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child.’ Teachers used to hit pupils every day: it was a common practice. When I was about 7 or 8, one of my classmates spat in the face of a teacher who had just hit him. This astonished us. We were on the side of power, and subscribed to the idea that the system could use violence to educate us. The teacher was just as surprised and shocked as we were. He took the necessary steps to have this boy removed from the school. Before his expulsion, the boy had been called in with his parents to make his apologies to the teacher in front of the whole class – which he refused to do when he arrived. It was unbelievable. So unsettling that I don’t even remember talking about it with the other pupils. We never saw our classmate again and I forgot his name. The teacher was called Mr. Le Soir. It wasn’t until years later that I understood that this child’s action had been heroic. He alone among us was not paralyzed in the face of power and violence. When I looked at Charlie Don’t Surf, this childhood memory naturally came back to me. In my memory, the boy became like Charlie, a small being who zealously refuses to bow down to the omnipotence of the order which nails him to the spot. I can’t be against Charlie Don’t Surf, I am against with him.” — Thomas Lenthal, Creative Director
Like a hunting trophy in reverse, the untitled work is also the antithesis of the typically heroic equestrian monument familiar to art history. Cattelan’s horse appears to have attempted a valiant leap, only to have been thwarted by the thick wall. Neither striking a spectacular pose nor making a successful escape from the exhibition, he is stuck in the liminal space in-between. Likewise, the horse seems suspended between life and death, his decapitation suggested but hidden from view. — Monnaie de Paris
“Marble does not hide” As a man, and all the more as a man of government, before All by Maurizio Cattelan, I can only feel dismay at those nine lives cut short, witness to the migrants’ tragedy, about which our generation will inevitablybe called to account by those to come. Marble does not hide, marble preserves. And art that narrates reality is not a provocation or an irreverence but a warning about what must be done. — Dario Franceschini, Ministry of culture and tourism of the Italian government
It’s a double self-portrait of the artist in bed with himself that relies on scale shifts, doubling, and theatrical presentation to present a surreal, psychological depiction. Wearing tailored suits and well-made but scuffed shoes, the similar, but not identical three-foot-tall likenesses lie on a small wooden bed covered with delicately embroidered bedding. Without touching, they stare blankly into space. The waxen quality of the faces is eerily lifeless, suggesting that the bodies are lying in wake. — Monnaie de Paris
“Everything I do has an autobiographical resonance, but I can’t control it.” – Maurizio Cattelan
An encounter with Him unravels as a carefully orchestrated sequence of recognition. Approaching from behind, the viewer sees the figure of a boy kneeling at the back of the gallery. Neatly dressed in a gray tweed jacket and britches, his hair dutifully combed down and his hands clasped in prayer, the diminutive form presents a model of submission of piety. But the instinctive feeling of tenderness engendered by the figure is dramatically overturned the moment his face is seen, revealing the unmistakable visage of Adolf Hitler. The sight of one of History’s most reviled figures reduced to the scale of a vulnerable child and posed in an attitude of apparent contrition sets up a tacit confrontation with the Catholic doctrine of absolution. — Monnaie de Paris
“Comedians manipulate and make fun of reality. Whereas I actually think that reality is far more provocative than my art.” – Maurizio Cattelan
One of my best trips to the museum! I really enjoyed reading all the written interpretations by different people from different fields. Time flew and we rushed to Le Servan to meet with Barbi.
Le Servan’s chef, Ms. Levha, was born in Manila but raised in Paris. She describes her dishes as, “traditional French cuisine with a little Asian twist.”
Isha caught an earlier flight and Barbi stayed to keep me company while I waited for my ride to the airport. We talked about her fabulous life in Paris with her husband and cute new baby. It was great catching up!
Then it was time to go home!!
Even after an amazing trip, I have to admit I was looking forward to going home to Jim & Joey!