Charlie don't surf

  • 1997
  • Maurizio Cattelan
  • Mixed media
  • 112 x 71 x 70 cm
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.

© Maurizio Cattelan 2014. Photo : © Fondation Louis Vuitton / Marc Domage © Maurizio Cattelan 2014. Photo : © Fondation Louis Vuitton / Marc Domage


Maurizio Cattelan

Since the early 1990s, Maurizio Cattelan has built his reputation with work that is both spectacular and provocative, combining extreme satire with a streak of melancholy to underline the contradictions of contemporary society.

Cattelan uses the media to situate his work in a socio-political context. Since the start of his career he has represented his withdrawal from an aesthetic territory like an escape from prison. He conceives his works as "images", the most famous of which feature high-profile and controversial figures such as Picasso, Pope Jean-Paul II and Hitler. He has also used animal metaphors to create pieces that represent death and failure. His practice can take various forms: sculpture, the creation of a tiny gallery, the organisation of exhibitions and the publishing of newspapers.

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