This work was shown at the Castello di Rivoli in Turin; a taxidermized horse hung from the baroque ceiling of one of the museum's salons, its legs elongated to give the impression that the force of gravity was stretching it down to the ground.
Cattelan has used taxidermy since the 1990s to explore the emotional relationships and cultural associations between humans and animals. This taxidermy horse is one of the artist’s most iconic works. This work invites us to consider how we feel when we see a horse – usually associated with power and grace – in this submissive position. The title Novecento (‘Nine Hundred’) is an Italian term for the twentieth century, as well as the name of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1976 film tracing the rise of Italian fascism.
Created just before the turn of the millennium, Cattelan’s horse may symbolise a country exhausted by a century of upheaval and violence. The horse – usually a symbol of strength – is here worn and tired; perhaps embodying a look back at the last century and a warning about the future.