Provocative Maurizio Cattelan Exhibition Opens at Gagosian

Featuring gold, bullet holes, and public urination, Sunday is the Italian artist’s first solo gallery exhibition in over twenty years.

May 1, 2024By Emily Snow, MA History of Art, BA Art History & Curatorial Studies
Installation view of Sunday by Maurizio Cattelan at Gagosian in New York, photographed by Maris Hutchinson. Source: Maurizio Cattelan and Gagosian.


For the first time in over two decades, contemporary Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan opened a new solo gallery exhibition. Featuring gilded panels pulverized with bullet holes and a urinating fountain sculpture, Sunday grapples with issues of violence and inequality in the United States. The exhibition is now on view through June 15, 2024 at Gagosian’s 522 West 21st Street location in New York City. Cattelan is a fascinating figure in the contemporary art world. Sometimes dismissed as a prankster, his profoundly political artworks tend to incite important discourse—and occasionally spark outrage.



Sunday Juxtaposes Gold and Guns

Maurizio Cattelan with Sunday at Gagosian, photographed by Vincent Tullo. Source: The New York Times.


The piece for which the exhibition Sunday is named is a wall of square steel panels plated in 24-carat gold. To create the installation, Maurizio Cattelan hired professionals at a gun range in Brooklyn to function as a firing squad. They shot over 20,000 rounds of ammunition into the steel panels using legally-obtained semiautomatic weapons and shotguns. Each of the 64 panels is about 54 inches tall and weighs 80 pounds, the size of an average 10-year-old child. Mounted on a single wall, Sunday is a heavy-handed juxtaposition of the gilded glory of wealth and the horrific destruction of gun violence.


“When I read the front page of the newspapers, all they talk about is violence,” Cattelan told The New York Times. “We are completely immersed in violence every day, and we’ve gotten used to it. The repetition has made us accept violence as inevitable.”


November is Cattelan’s First Fountain Piece

November by Maurizio Cattelan, 2024. Source: Artnet.


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In front of the golden wall of bullet-ridden panels, Maurizio Cattelan installed his first fountain sculpture titled November. A marble-carved, seemingly unhoused man reclines on a bench, holding his exposed phallus, which spurts out water. Cattelan intended the sculpture to represent “the swaths of people who are invisible in society.” November brings public urination into an exclusive high-end space, confronting viewers with the reality of New York City’s housing crisis—which is happening just beyond the closed doors of the spacious blue-chip Gagosian Gallery.


Exhibition curator Francesco Bonami thematically connected November to its gilded counterpart Sunday by posing the question, “If you’re free to buy an assault rifle in a department store, what’s wrong with pissing in public?”


Maurizio Cattelan is No Stranger to Controversy

Comedian by Maurizio Cattelan, 2019, photographed by Zeno Zotti. Source: Maurizio Cattelan and Gagosian.


Bonami explained, “Maurizio is a political artist—not political in the sense that he’s presenting a position, but political in that he deals with society’s problems and current events, and he always touches a raw nerve.”


Sunday is far from the first time that Maurizio Cattelan has intentionally provoked the public with his art. In 2019, Cattelan’s Comedian—comprised of a banana duct-taped to a wall—sold for six figures at Art Basel Miami. The conceptual artwork sparked a media frenzy, as well as a tongue-and-cheek companion piece, Hungry Artist by David Datuna. In the same year, Cattelan’s satirical yet fully functional golden toilet sculpture, controversially titled America, was famously stolen from England’s Blenheim Palace.

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By Emily SnowMA History of Art, BA Art History & Curatorial StudiesEmily Snow is a contributing writer and art historian based in Amsterdam. She earned an MA in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art and loves knitting, her calico cat, and everything Victorian.