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Friday, May 31 • 3:00pm - 3:20pm
(Contemporary Art Session 2) Installing Mauricio Cattelan's ALL: a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum

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Strung-up, dangling, inverted, at a glance random but in fact painstakingly composed. The goal was to create a new installation that would fill the rotunda with the life’s work of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. Certainly the Guggenheim had experience filling the void with newly fabricated, site-specific works but never before had a multitudinous collection of diverse, original artwork been brought together and hung from the rotunda skylight at the Guggenheim Museum. This was the challenge the Guggenheim team faced when standing in front of the working model for All in a studio in Milan with the artist and the Cattelan Archive. What was initially a conservator’s nightmare and a huge challenge for the fabrication, mountmaking, design and registrar departments, became, after careful planning and meticulous execution, a one-of-a-kind and unforgettable exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum.
From a conservation perspective, examining and establishing object condition as well as developing mounting strategies for loans to be included in ALL was of the utmost importance for the safety of the artwork and museum visitors. Guggenheim Conservation and Mountmaking traveled to perform on-site assessments of many objects included in the exhibit. During these visits the works were carefully examined to determine condition and structural integrity. Each object was studied and compared to the working model to determine if the proposed hanging method was feasible or needed to be modified.
Maurizio Cattelan’s work does not fall discretely into one category or medium. ALL included photographs, paintings, works on paper, taxidermy, textiles and sculptural works in marble, metal and wax. After a survey of the objects in the exhibit was complete and conservation needs identified, conservators of varying disciplines from outside the museum were enlisted to share their expertise and treat pieces under the guidance of the artist, the Cattelan Archive and Guggenheim conservation staff.
Fabrication, exhibition design, conservation and art services and preparation departments, in consultation with the company GMS Engineering, carefully thought out the mechanics of cautiously lifting All. After several discussions with Cattelan regarding appearance, a design was approved. Using the working model of All as a guide, a three-dimensional computer model was made. Cables were plotted top to bottom to ensure that each piece was suspended at a safe distance from surrounding artworks, and that cables for objects placed lower in the composition had a clear path to the hanging structure. Each connection from truss to object was tested, and each component was weighed to guarantee that the total weight would not compromise the structural ribs of the skylight at the museum.
As a result of meticulous planning, the installation process was seamless. With cables set, mounts in place and hanging hardware ready, each object was carefully lifted and positioned on the hanging cables. Conservation, GMS Engineering and the Cattelan Archive carefully inspected the condition and stability of each work before the piece was lifted out of reach. One month later, a suspended kaleidoscope of Cattelan’s life work welcomed the public as they entered the Guggenheim Museum.

avatar for Nathan Otterson

Nathan Otterson

Senior Conservator, Objects, Guggenheim Museum
Nathan Otterson returned to the Guggenheim in 2005. He focuses on scientific documentation and treatment of the Guggenheim Museum’s modern and contemporary sculpture collection. Most recently he has concentrated on the treatment of works by Matthew Barney, Joseph Beuys, Maurizio... Read More →

Friday May 31, 2013 3:00pm - 3:20pm EDT
JW Marriott White River Ballroom F 10 S West St Indianapolis, IN 46204

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