Feb 4–Apr 23, 2006
A special presentation of a thought-provoking work by Maurizio Cattelan is presented in the Turner galleries on the fourth floor. HIM is one in a series of sculptures by Maurizio Cattelan that places modern and contemporary figures such as President John F. Kennedy and Pope John Paul II in situations that provoke contemplation or debate about the most disturbing aspects of humanity—in this case, the presence and nature of evil. This work juxtaposes the vulnerable, seemingly innocent body of a boy with the adult face of Adolf Hitler, widely considered the most evil person of the 20th century for his responsibility in the deaths of six million Jews in the Holocaust and for the deaths of millions of others in World War II.
Cattelan intended that viewers first approach this diminutive figure from the back and then recognize Hitler when encountering HIM from the front. The scale of the figure, in relation to the physical stature of viewers, shifts the power relationship, perhaps raising conflicting responses, yet it does not diminish the potency of Hitler’s image and the magnitude of his crimes. HIM may serve as a reminder that the face of evil is not always easily recognizable and that individuals can cause terrible destruction. Cattelan’s combination of imagery and the experience of encountering this work, provide opportunity for reflection—on the Holocaust, on one individual’s power to create evil in recent history, and on the personal and societal responses to past, present, and future atrocities.