In the documentary feature “Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back,” filmmaker Maura Axelrod excavates Maurizio Cattelan's disruptive and indelible career as the art world prankster of our time. Interviewing curators, collectors, art-world luminaries (and even his ex-girlfriends), to build a compelling picture of the conceptual artist and what makes him tick.
Known best for his shocking photorealistic wax sculpture of Pope John Paul being felled by a meteorite, and of a child-size Hitler kneeling in prayer, Cattelan’s work is often wildly offensive - and yet incredibly popular - selling for tens of millions of dollars at auction.
The film explores the origins of Cattelan’s work, and delves into the mythology of the famously elusive artist’s personal story as well. And like the best mysteries, viewers emerge from this dizzying journey knowing everything and nothing about a man who, from his professional inception, ushered us into a dazzling hall of mirrors that enchants and perplexes to this day. Maurizio Cattelan shook up the contemporary art world beginning in the late 1980s with a series of action-based installations including his first solo show in Milan, Torno Subito (Be Right Back), in which he padlocked an empty gallery - barring entrance to critics and spectators - and simply hung a sign on the door that read "Torno Subito" or "Be Right Back."
Over his twenty-year career, Cattelan has continued to provoke and inspire, culminating in an all-encompassing installation and the proclamation of his retirement in 2011. His stunning final exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City features all of his works to date suspended - execution style, as sharper critics described it - from the ceiling of the world-famous museum's rotunda, encapsulating a brief but meteoric career that Cattelan himself supposedly terminated at the height of his success.