The Lives and Opinions of the Eminent Maurizio Cattelan

I am taking a break from Simone Weil and Carthage, which gives me a chance to post about a revelation I had in Paris this past October. On visiting the post-retirement exhibition of Maurizio Catellan Not Afraid of Love at the Monnaie de Paris, it slowly dawned on me that the new work of the exhibition (and the heart of the exhibition itself) was contained exclusively in the wall text. Following the ongoing biographical project about the artist, written by three different authors and published by Three Star Books, the wall text at the exhibition was a radical continuation of this fracturing of the artist’s life and work though an even greater number of voices. While each wall text focuses on an individual work, they come together to generate a mosaic of the artist’s life and opinions, both laudatory and critical, serious and slapstick. This mixture of life and work, praise and blame, and criticism and humour reminded me of the great work of ancient philosophical biography by Diogenes Laertius The Lives and Opinions of the Eminent Philosophers. These texts are not reproduced in the gallery guide nor in the exhibition catalogue and so, as far as I know, unless you make it to the exhibition before it closes on January 8th, this post may be your one and only chance to read this playfully excessive biographical text. Enjoy!

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