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Maurizio Cattelan’s sculptor rebels against the star artist

By Pascale Nivelle

Published today at 06:00

In a workshop in Seine-Saint-Denis, in Saint-Ouen, a sculpture represents Maurizio Cattelan as a cuckoo clock. The head of the contemporary Italian artist is afflicted with a long beak, and his body is enclosed in an eggshell, resting on a nest of intertwined branches and brushes. “Tools he does not know how to use”, creaks Daniel Druet, master of the place and author of the work.

Conceived in a burst of rage, this resin sculpture gathering dust in his basement sums up his fight for four years. alone against “all the artists who use the work of others to promote themselves”, he says, against Maurizio Cattelan in particular.

From the end of the 1990s, the Italian artist asked Daniel Druet, a sculptor for the Musée Grévin for many years, to produce a dozen hyperrealistic figures in wax. “He sent a ten-line fax or else his Italian collaborators, who barely spoke French, gave me some instructions, says Daniel Druet. It was all pretty vague, and it was up to me to figure it out. »

In less than ten years, he modeled Cattelan himself several times. In one sculpture, the Italian artist known for his provocative works hangs by the collar from a coat rack; in another, it springs from the ground like a mole raising its head above the ground.

An imprecise collaboration

It is in Saint-Ouen that all these creations were born, as well as Stephanie (2003), also known as Trophy Wife, which represents the bust, bare breasts, of the model Stephanie Seymour, or Now (Now, 2004), which shows John F. Kennedy in his coffin, although no photograph of the president’s remains had been authorized.

This is also where two characters who have become major figures in the work of Maurizio Cattelan were created: the pope struck by a meteorite (La Nona Ora, 1999) and the famous Hitler as a penitent child (Him, 2001), who made Cattelan’s rating soar and established his worldwide celebrity. Scandalous works culminating in the sale, for $120,000, of Comedian, a (real) banana taped to the wall of a stand at the Art Basel Miami fair in 2019.

One of the copies of

During the 2000s, the fate of the sculptor from Saint-Ouen, twice Grand Prix de Rome (in 1967 and 1968) but unknown in the world of contemporary art, did not improve. In his threadbare linen sculptor’s blouse, identical to the one Rodin wore more than a hundred years ago, he recounts an imprecise collaboration, advances orders placed by email or telephone.

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