At 8:20 p.m. last night, artist Maurizio Cattelan was standing in line for a rum drink by the make-shift bar at Anna Kustera Gallery in Chelsea to which his own tiny storefront gallery, Family Business, is annexed. There was a pile of magazines next to him with bright blue covers, as it was the Vice magazine issue release party for the Holy Trinity Issue and Mr. Cattelan had designed the front cover, which features a picture of three objects—a stapler, a red plunger and a dildo, the last of which was covered with a black sticker that had the word “dildo” printed on it. We made to say hello to the skinny Italian artist as he left the bar, but the artist, who was wearing a dark sport jacket, black skinny jeans and modish white leather sneakers, was intercepted by a tall blonde woman. Around him in the small bright space, was a group exhibition mostly of photographic work. The crowd was dressed casually and seemed barely out of college.
“I’m here with friends,” said one man who was standing in the middle of the room. “Do you know Spencer Tunick?” he asked.
“Not personally,” we said. We mentioned some of his work we had seen recently, but the man seemed uninterested. Then a group of guys whisked by him and he said he had to go.
We pulled off the sticker from the Vice cover to see the dildo while sipping on a Sailor Jerry rum-and-ginger ale. We walked outside where a large crowd had gathered around Mr. Cattelan’s gallery, which he co-owns with Massimiliano Gioni, which is essentially the size of a window display that you’d see in front of a clothing store. The glass doors were open and the musicians, The Skaters, were setting up their instruments. People were drinking and smoking as if it was the middle of summer.
The Observer walked up to Maurizio Cattelan and he whispered something to a young brunette woman in a white dress, Daria Irincheeva, one of the gallerists of Family Business. They both looked suspiciously at us and then laughed hysterically to each other.
“I thought you were my weekly stalker,” said Mr. Cattelan to The Observer then smiled broadly. “Oh! Don’t step on my feet.” He look down at his modish white sneakers and did a little dance. Then he and Ms. Irincheeva laughed hysterically again. We had heard he was a prankster, but we were still surprised by his goofiness. Ms. Irincheeva had one of the black “dildo” stickers on her chest. Their moods seemed appropriate for the summery evening.
“Where are you from?” said Mr. Cattelan. He had a very deep voice and had stuffed a rolled-up copy of the magazine in his front jeans pocket.
“Guess,” we said.
“Eh, Terra del Fuego?” said Mr. Cattelan. We shook our head. “Canada?” We shook our head again. “La Isla Bonita?”
We said we were born in New York, but had part-Serbian heritage.
“Did you know the cover was going to have a sticker on it?” we asked presenting him with the cover and the black “dildo” sticker.
“Oh god,” he said faux nervously, tapping his foot, and looked down at his chest, not so much as if something had gone wrong, but as if to engage everyone around him in his act of concentration.
“Actually, no, we ah,” he said, “the ah—”
“Maurizio,” said Ms. Irincheeva gracefully intercepting and pointing to a copy of the magazine that was rolled up in the artist’s pocket with the sticker peeled off and the image of the dildo exposed, “has like more and more penises.” They both laughed.
“No!” he said in protest and then muttered something in a joking tone about something being used against him.
“I’m Dasha,” said Ms. Irincheeva lifting her head and smiling at us innocently, “From Russia. No parla inglais.”
Mr. Cattelan disappeared and returned with a tall woman with dark hair flowing on either side, Anna Kustera, the owner of the gallery to which Family Business is barnacled.
“She was born in New York,” Mr. Cattelan said to us knowingly, “and her father is from Serbia.”
“Croatia,” she said correcting him.
“Oh no!” Mr. Cattelan shouted playfully and ran away shouting, “That’s war. That’s war!”
And the band started up.
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