Maurizio Cattelan on His Show of Artists Named Smith, His Retirement Status, and Where His Golden Toilet Is Headed Next -ARTnews

Installation view, “The Smiths,” at Marlborough London.


Maurizio Cattelan, perhaps the art world’s most notorious prankster, announced his retirement in 2011, when he had his retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, but he has not exactly gone quiet. While he has not staged gallery shows of new work since then, he’s offered to loan his sculpture America, a toilet made of 18-karat gold to the White House, published several issues of the cheeky-to-the-point-of-disturbing photo magazine Toilet Paper, and created a winking ad campaign for the online dating site OkCupid.

Cattelan’s most recent statement is a new group exhibition at Marlborough gallery in London titled “The Smiths,” which displays art only by artists with the most common surname in the United States. On display through August 2 are works by David Smith, Joshua Smith, Patti Smith, Emily Mae Smith, Kiki Smith, and Sable Elyse Smith, alongside many others. ARTnews reached out to the artist via email to find out more about the show, and what’s new in his world.

ARTnews: How did the idea for the Smiths show come about?

Call it short-circuit or serendipity, it is all my inbox’s fault: in the very same moment I received three different invites for openings from different venues with artists named Smith showing in it. I took it as a divine sign; someone needed to grab it and make something good out of it. Obviously, it was not me.

So are you officially un-retired now?

I especially research a condition that in Italian we define as “to keep your foot in two shoes”: I don’t want to decide between the A or B option, I love to stay in between. On one hand, I am aware I’m not able to work with the turnover an artist is forced to nowadays: doing dozen of shows per month, producing works for the hundreds of fairs around the world… that’s not my style, and I can’t help it. On the other, I feel I can still produce artworks with a value that is not…

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