The image of the corpse in Cattelan's oeuvre - a hallmark of his iconography rooted in an unhappy stint working at a morgue as a teenager in Padua - culminates powerfully in All (2007), a group of nine marbles depicting supine figures shrouded in fabric. The ability to mimic the fluidity of cloth in rigid stone has traditionally been prized as a demonstration of sculptural virtuosity, and the drapery in All is rendered with a verisimilitude that imbues the sober subject matter with a paradoxical beauty. The artist's choice of Carrara marble, a material emblematic of masterworks of Italian sculpture, endows All with a funereal monumentality.
The identities of the departed souls beneath the coverings are unknowable, an anonymity that spares the viewer the full horror of death while simultaneously amplifying its stark brutality. Alternately resonant of an act of genocide, the aftermath of battle, a natural disaster, a devastating plague, or a suicide cult, this elegy for universal suffering employs a searing economy of means.
In "Maurizio Cattelan. All", Guggenheim Museum Publications, curated by Nancy Spector, 2011, New York, pp. 236.