Retied Artist Maurizio Cattelan Unveils Uncanny High Line Billboard
Ten disembodied fingers sprawl out over a Chelsea street near the High Line.
This is not the work of the mob, but rather of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari.
The fingers are perfectly polished and adorned with glittering jewels, resting against a bright blue velvet background. This atypical billboard -- a bit surreal, definitely strange, a little sexy and possibly scary -- greets passersby of New York City's elevated park and also the street.
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The artists unveiled their uncanny billboard at the Chelsea location Thursday, which stands 75 by 25 feet and resides at 10th Avenue and West 18th Street. It is the fourth billboard in a High Line series that began last December and is on view through June 30.
Cattelan announced his retirement last fall at age 51 after a retrospective at the Guggenheim, but is back with this literal slice of life.
Cattelan and Ferrari had a party for their creation, also a part of the two-year-old art magazine Toilet Paper that they co-founded, Thursday night at The Eagle. Chelsea's leather-fetish bar was adorned with toilets and toilet paper for the occasion.
The finger photo was taken in Milan. Cattelan and Ferrari held casting sessions for the hand, but ultimately went with an old woman they met in a bar near their work.
Cattelan described the image as "Surreal but verging on Pop ... It's a bit gory but without the blood."
The artist is known for creating Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour), a sculpture of Pope John Paul II struck down by a meteorite.
For his current work, Cattelan explained why the hand is missing. "Fingers are something sexual, like penises," he said. "It doesn't always have to be a cigar."
Of this piece and his retirement, Cattelan told The New York Post, "I don't do any more of my own artworks, but there are some collaborations," he said. "I don't see this magazine as art, it's a magazine. Retiring wasn't easy. Sometimes you have to step back and leave space for younger people."