MAURIZIO CATTELAN | Daddy Daddy, 2008 | polyurethane resin, steel, and industrial epoxy car paint with UV protection
Sold for $2,546,500 at the Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 10 May 2012, New York. [Video]
When I think of a sculpture, I always imagine it like that, far away, in some way already dead. It has always surprised me when people laugh at some of my art works: maybe in front of death laughter is a spontaneous reaction. (Maurizio Cattelan in “Killing Me Softly: A Conversation with Maurizio Cattelan,” interview with Giancarlo Politi et al, Flash Art (International edition) 37, no. 237, July-September 2004, p. 92).
Originally conceived for the acclaimed exhibition theanyspacewhatever, curated by Nancy Spector at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2008, Daddy Daddy, 2008, is a sculptural rendering of the beloved protagonist in Walt Disney’s Pinocchio. Cattelan’s rendering bears all of the characteristic marks of the classic Pinocchio from his eponymous Disney film. In its lustrous surface, vibrant hues, and rounded form, comprised of polyurethanic resin, steel, and industrial epoxy car paint, Daddy Daddy, 2008, is an exact replica of the Disney character. His face is plump and sweet, with sparkling blue eyes and a button nose, destined to grow should he tell a lie. As the viewer will remember, Pinocchio plays the hero by rescuing both his father and Jiminy from the ravenous whale, Monstro, but not without tragically drowning, eliciting the image from which Cattelan bases his original installation.
In 2011, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum rotunda was once again invaded and reinvented by Cattelan; in the exhibition Maurizio Cattelan: All, Daddy Daddy, 2008, was rigged from the ceiling of the museum in a retrospective of the artist’s oeuvre. All the works, secured and suspended with thick white ropes and metal armature, hovered midair in a massive chandelier of suspended animation. With a levitational twist, the en masse installation offered a profound meditation on mortality, the core of Cattelan’s practice. His renowned use of taxidermy, as seen in Love Saves Life, 1995, Novecento, 1997, and Tourists, 1997, presents a state of illusory life. Even more poignant than the stuffed animals are his examples of anthropomorphic installation; in Bidibidobidiboo, 1996, a squirrel has committed suicide with a miniature revolver in his sordid kitchen. Like Daddy Daddy, 2008, a loveable creature meets an untimely, yet darkly comic end. It is as if Death stalks these characters.
In the original installation of Daddy Daddy in 2008, Cattelan’s beloved hero lying at the base of the rotunda was perhaps ultimately foiled by the fear of his unauthentic existence. However, exhibited in All (re-enacted in the same space as theanyspacewhatever, 2008-2009), Cattelan proffers a new end to Pinocchio’s story. Instead of meeting a watery grave, Daddy Daddy, 2008, floats amidst the totality of the artist’s epic body of work, hovering between the throws of death and the promise of deliverance.