‘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]