Contemporary art Controversies

Cattelan causes controversy in Warsaw—again

Cattelan's Him installed at the Warsaw ghetto

Maurizio Cattelan’s sculpture of Pope John Paul II being struck by a meteorite caused such a storm of controversy when it was exhibited at Warsaw's Zacheta Gallery in 2000 that two right wing MPs destroyed the work and Anda Rottenberg stepped down as the institution’s director. Now, Cattelan is back in the Polish capital, this time with a sculpture of Hitler as a kneeling schoolboy on the site of a former Warsaw ghetto. Him, 2001, is part of the Cattelan exhibition “Amen” at the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (until 24 February), which features new work by the Italian artist. “Every criminal was once a tender, innocent and defenceless child,” write the curators in a press statement. “In a Warsaw ravaged by the cataclysms of the 20th century, the works of Maurizio Cattelan take on a special dimension—they become an artistic commentary on the Catholic credo: what does it really mean to love your enemies?” With the main criticism in the Polish press being that the show isn't big enough, it seems that Cattelan has been forgiven—this time.

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