Where better than Shanghai, arguably the global capital of counterfeit luxury, to stage an exhibition celebrating the art of copying? At the Yuz Museum, Gucci have done just that in collaboration with the art world’s jester nonpareil, the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan (perhaps you’re familiar with his functional sculpture America, an 18 karat gold toilet installed at the Guggenheim in New York last year and later offered to the curatorial team from the White House for installation in the President and First Lady’s living quarters?).

In The Artist Is Present (a title that is in itself a replica of Marina Abramović’s major retrospective of her work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York), Cattelan and his collaboration, creative director Alessandro Michele, have curated a selection of work by more than 30 artists, both Chinese and otherwise, whose intent is to question what it calls “the most hallowed principles of art in the modern era: originality, intention, expression” through both original and simulacra of works by artists like Donald Judd. It’s apt subject matter for both creators to explore; the designer is an adept appropriator of imagery both sacred and profane, and Cattelan is just as comfortable citing works by Michelangelo as he is Disney.

“In an era where everything is reproduced, nothing really keeps the aura of originality, suggesting the urgency to overcome an old concept of counterfeit in favour of a new way to conceive copy as an indispensable tool for facing our contemporary society,” Gucci elucidated by way of a statement. “The show explores how originality can be reached through the act of repetition, and how originals themselves can be preserved through copies. It consists in a physical immersion in the reign of imitation, a land where the core values that used to identify with an artwork in the Western world, such as originality, intention, expression, and authorship, are dismantled.”

In the gallery above, preview select works from The Artist Is Present at the Yuz Museum. Should you have the pleasure of visiting Shanghai soon, the exhibition will remain on display until December 16.

Tile and cover image: Courtesy of Gucci

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