Charlie don't surf, 1997
  • © Fondation Louis Vuitton / Marc

    Domage © Maurizio Cattelan

"Charlie Don’t Surf" (1997) shows a boy seated at a small desk, his back turned to the viewer.

His hands lie flat on the desk and are nailed to it with pencils. The image evokes the artist’s experience of school, his “training in failure” as opposed to the confidence and engagement he has developed through art. The title, Charlie Don’t Surf, is a famous line from the film Apocalypse Now which one of the characters uses as a battle cry. Charlie was the name used by the Americans to refer to the opposing Vietnamese side during the Vietnam War, and the artist has also often used the name to refer to himself.