Maurizio Cattelan carved out an international career in the 1990s with intricate pranks, works of art whose precise placing at the art event basically turned them into actions, playing tricks on art. However, behind the mask of the sly rogue and mellow ironist, a deeply moral artist is hidden, who does not baulk at his own vanitas and brings a great Italian art tradition into the present, not only in his formal elegance but also in a deeply Catholic fear of death.
In accordance with the subject depicted, the photograph “Hollywood” is concerned with how appearances can be deceptive in many different ways. For in the cinema screen format, as we quickly recognize, it is not the world-famous symbol of the city of illusion and empty dreams that is presented, but an exact copy of it constructed by the artist on a hill above Palermo. The photograph therefore firstly documents an installation. But actually it is a record of an action. For the troop we see climbing the hill in the Sicilian heat like a procession of penitents is actually a selection of leading figures from the international art world. During the 2001 Venice Biennale Cattelan had these collectors, curators, dealers and critics flown in to Palermo to attend an exclusive cocktail party for the purpose of the first viewing of his Hollywood installation – in order to present them on his photograph as victims of his enticement, victims of their craving for brilliance and glamour, as extras in their own world of illusion and dreams.