Maura Axelrod's Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back is a documentary profiling an art world upstart in Maurizio Cattelan, whose provocative style led him to acclaim and eventually status in the artistic establishment. Playful in execution, much like the disruptive, subversive style of the artist it profiles, Be Right Back is a film that is first and foremost a portrait, detailing Cattelan's early life and the unique progression of his career, one that found him go from renegade prankster to an institution himself in the contemporary art world, with the Guggenheim doing a retrospective of his work in 2011. Having known very little about Maurizio Cattelan, I found this documentary informative and full of interesting ideas about the elusive nature of art itself, one where subjectivity dispels any finite definition for what is art, with what it means being far more ambiguous than the art establishment tends to let on. Maura Axelrod's Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back's desire to profile this disruptive, controversial artist does, at times, come into conflict with its thematic pronouncements about art, with the film's assertions into subjectivity vs. objectivity, art's relationship with commerce, and the general reflexive nature of defining art itself, not as fully explored throughout its narrative as I would have hoped. Maurizio Cattelan being a disruptor who was written off as a prankster by some of the art establishment, Be Right Back explores the confrontational nature which art can take, challenging perspectives and expectations of what is allowed or what is not in the art world by those who experience it. Through this profile of Cattelan's disruptive style, Maura Axelrod's film touches on how coercive the relationship can be between the art institutions and power structures in the community and the artist themselves, much of this conflict being related to the desire by these structures to classify and grade something in art that is intrinsically up to the subjective reality of each individual who experiences it, not some collective. Be Right Back exhibits how the fundamental nature of contemporary art is rooted in belief, with Cattelan's rise to notoriety being driven by those who began to believe that his work was something to be admired, collectors or buyers who admired his provocative, singular style. Looking at the relationship between art and commerce, Be Right Back profiles how art itself is a commodity that is driven by the subjective emotional value to those who admire it, but more so financially by relevance defined by the art institutions and power structures, detailing how much mass perception hugely drives the price and therefore the success of the artist. An elusive artist who very much wishes to remain out of the spotlight, Be Right Back raises intriguing assertions about Maurizio Cattelan and the mindset of any devout artist, detailing how artistic drive and devotion to personal expression is often at conflict with socialization and even companionship, showing the toll this man's passions have had on those who care for him, with his drive not allowing him to give the same amount of love in return. Intimate yet expansive in its assertions about art and the artist which it profiles, Maura Axelrod's Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back is a fascinating art documentary which raises lots of alluring questions about the nature of art itself.
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