'Waking Up, It Was The First Thing I Saw'

Thanks to Paul Schmelzer at Eyeteeth for pointing to Bob Nickas's great 1999 interview with Maurizio Cattelan. Good times.

I really wanted to focus on his experience with painting, so this excerpt starts kind of in the middle of the story of Maurizio not having enough time to do a show at de Appel in Amsterdam, so he breaks into the Galerie Bloom, steals everything in it, and exhibits it instead:

BOB: Whose work did you take?
MAURIZIO: Actually we took everything from the gallery ...

BOB: Like the fax machine and all the stuff in the office?
MAURIZIO: Everything. We rented a van, and just filled it up.

BOB: This was in Amsterdam?
MAURIZIO: Yes, at de Appel. They wanted me to do a piece in a week. But I'm not used to working so quickly. So I thought the best way to get something that fast was to take the work of someone else.

BOB: That's a new take on the readymade. [indeed, the show was called "Another F___ing Readmade" -ed.]
MAURIZIO: Well, when you don't know what to do ...

BOB: But didn't the people at de Appel ask, "Where did all this stuff come from?"
MAURIZIO: The story finished quickly, because the police came and there were problems ...

BOB: Were you arrested?
MAURIZIO: No. This is why I did the piece in Holland.

BOB: [laughs] Imagine doing that in New York.
MAURIZIO: It took a while for everyone to calm down, but then we became very good friends and they even asked me to do a show with them.

BOB: But that's your ultimate punishment -- you had to figure something out for another show.
MAURIZIO: Yeah, it's true.

BOB: Crime doesn't pay.
MAURIZIO: But I can tell you about the worst punishment I received. Once, I was talking with a collector, and he said, "I really would like to have a painting made by you." And I thought, "Yes, let's take this opportunity for once to see how difficult it would be to make a painting." So I said, "Send me a canvas and some colors and I'll do it." He said, "Whatever you want to do, it's fine for me." A week later, I received a white canvas -- that's probably still in my apartment -- and it was the most horrible nightmare for a year. It was there every morning. Waking up, it was the first thing I saw. After a year, I gave up.

Maurizio Cattelan with Bob Nickas, 1999 [indexmagazine.com]

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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first published: June 26, 2010.

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