A sculpture of Adolf Hitler, praying on his knees by the well known Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, has created controversy after it was installed in the heart of the Warsaw ghetto. Cattelan is no stranger to altercations, his satirical sculpture, La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour), depicts Pope John Paul II struck down by a meteorite. It was featured in the Royal Academy’s ‘Apocalypse: Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art’, in 2000. It also caused outrage with a certain sector of the population.
This latest work has attracted large numbers of visitors since it was erected last month. The installation is only viewed through a peep hole and you can only see the back of the statue from this vantage point. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Jewish pressure group, described the statue’s placement as “a senseless provocation which insults the memory of the Nazis’ Jewish victims”.”As far as the Jews were concerned, Hitler’s only ‘prayer’ was that they be wiped off the face of the earth,” the group’s Israel director, Efraim Zuroff, said in a statement.
Maurizio Cattelan born September 21, 1960, Padova, Italy is an Italian artist based in New York. Hailed simultaneously as a provocateur, prankster, and tragic poet of our times, Maurizio Cattelan has created some of the most unforgettable images in recent contemporary art. His source materials range widely, from popular culture, history, and organized religion to a meditation on the self that is at once humorous and profound. Working in a vein that can be described as hyperrealist, Cattelan creates unsettlingly veristic sculptures that reveal contradictions at the core of today’s society. While bold and irreverent, the work is also deadly serious in its scathing critique of authority and the abuse of power. Cattelan’s disruptive and disrespectful gestures have at times taken the form of creative theft and even overtly criminal activity.
Between 2005 and 2010 his work has largely centered on publishing and curating. Earlier projects in these fields have included the founding of “The Wrong Gallery”, a store window in New York City [in 2002 and its subsequent display within the collection of the Tate Modern from 2005 to 2007. Last Autumn, The Whitechapel Gallery displayed works by Maurizio Cattelan, many not seen in the UK for over 20 years. In the first display from the Collection Sandretto Re Rebaudengo from 25 September – 2 December 2012. The display offered an opportunity to see some of Cattelan’s intimate earlier works.