Cattelan’s personal art practice has led to him gaining a reputation as an art scene’s joker. He has been described by Jonathan P. Binstock, curator of contemporary art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art “as one of the great post-Duchampian artists and a smartass, too”. Discussing the topic of originality with sociologist, Sarah Thornton, Cattelan explained, “Originality doesn’t exist by itself. It is an evolution of what is produced. […] Originality is about your capacity to add.”
Cattelan is highly recognized for several works that utilize taxidermy, a practice of his that flourished during the mid-1990s. These works are designed to connect humans and animals through the projections of human emotions which the former places on the latter. One piece called Novecento (1997) involving a horse named Tiramisu, once a racehorse, alludes to a sense of hopelessness and resignation. The horse hangs by a harness at its center from the ceiling with a drooping posture, head hanging below its torso, and dangling limbs. Another popular work utilizing taxidermy and anthropomorphic features is Bidibidobidiboo (1996), a miniature depiction of a taxidermied squirrel slumped over its kitchen table, a revolver at its feet. The sort of human failure conveyed through these animals is a common theme across many of Cattelan’s pieces.
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