One evening in 2015, the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan invited photographer Miles Aldridge to spend the night at a museum in Paris where a retrospective of Cattelan’s was taking place. With museum doors closed to to the public, Aldridge brought with him a model, makeup artists, and a hairstylist, arriving at around 7 PM. The two worked nonstop, taking photographs and coming up with creative concepts, until 7 AM the next day. “I got the first Eurostar home to London from there, absolutely shattered,” Aldridge recalled during a recent Zoom call from his studio in King’s Cross. “I didn't sleep. Maurizio slept—he had a bed in the museum where he had a little nap. Personally, I was working constantly.”
The result of this all-nighter was After Cattelan, a whimsical and, at times, somewhat unsettling photographic project that depicts the model, nude, inside the museum surrounded by Cattelan’s sculptural oddities: a horse with its head stuck into the wall, the Pope lying down on a rug. These images, which fully encapsulate Aldridge’s fantastical and theatrical visual style, will be on display at the photographical exhibition titled Virgin Mary. Supermarkets. Popcorn Photographs 1999 to 2020. The retrospective, which will take place at the museum Fotografiska New York and consists of 64 works spanning the artist’s career, also includes portraits of Viola Davis, Donatella Versace, and Sophie Turner—all captured with his cinematic eye. The show will open to Frieze New York VIPs on May 5th, with a public debut on May 7th, and was previously held in a slightly larger format at Fotografiska’s Stockholm location (after New York, the show will move to Fotografiska’s site in Estonia). The New York City opening will be accompanied by a performance by the Philip Glass Ensemble—which, Aldridge notes, has not played together since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Stockholm show was occurring during the beginning of a lockdown in London,” Aldridge said. “Uncertainty was the overriding emotion at that time: will the show open? Will people come? Who cares about art when we’re in a plague? The New York show, purely coincidentally, has landed in this period of euphoria, where people are happy to open up again. There’s a feeling of, let’s get the art happening again.”