The French sculptor who asks Cattelan for 5 million: “I made those works but no one mentions me”

The sculptor Daniel Druet is the material author of nine works conceived by Maurizio Cattelan. Of him the wax statue of Hitler on his knees, paid for just over 30 thousand euros and then sold by Christie’s for 17 million dollars

Who is the author of the work? The one who conceives it or the one who realizes it? Since in 1914 Marcel Duchamp put his signature on a bottle holder
bought at department stores transforming it into a work of art, one would be tempted to answer without hesitation that the author is the one who has the idea, not the material performer. But it’s not always that simple. On May 13, the third chamber of the Paris court, specializing in intellectual property, will examine the lawsuit from the French sculptor Daniel Druet to the Italian star of contemporary art Maurizio Cattelan, to his Parisian gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin and to the Monnaie de Paris, which in 2016 hosted the Cattelan exhibition Not Afraid of Love.

According to Le Mondewho was the first to tell the story, Druet asks for five million euros because it is never mentioned in catalogs and exhibitions even though it was he – long sculptor of the Paris wax museum – who made it nine statues at the base of Cattelan’s most famous works: from John Paul II struck by the meteorite to Hitler as a child on his knees with his hands joined, up to the portraits of Cattelan himself, such as the one in which the Italian artist hangs from a coat rack.

At 80, the talented classical sculptor Daniel Druet it could cause an earthquake in the contemporary art worldwhere the value certainly does not lie in technical perfection and aesthetics but in the concept that the artist wants to communicate. Druet complains of being considered by Cattelan as a mere supplier, when, on the other hand, the gaze of the statues, so alive thanks to his mastery, he says is an essential ingredient.

The collaboration began in the late nineties, when Cattelan managed to find out who the sculptor of the extraordinary wax portraits of the muzzle Grvin of Paris. He then commissioned a series of hyper-realistic statues from Druet. He sent a ten-line fax – Druet told Le Monde -, or collaborators who spoke a few words of French gave me some instructions. All vague, I had to get by on my own.

Druet highly esteemed in the world in the fine arts, his academic training and his virtuosity are of a high level. For him they posed Franois Mitterrand in the Elysée or the Pope in the Vatican. In the atelier of Saint Ouen, wearing the same nineteenth-century blouse of Auguste Rodin, Druet creates statues that seem to come to life and on which he puts his signature. For Cattelan never mentions him and Druet remains a stranger in contemporary art.
From Cattelan he received an average of 33,000 euros per statue, but
that of Hitler on his knees for example, it was auctioned by Christie’s for $ 17 million.

Without Maurizio the works would not exist, without Druet they would exist and how they would be the same, he says Eric Andrieu, Cattelan’s defense attorney. The sculptor Druet disagrees, and trusts the judges: This process will demolish a myth: the era of the artist who does not even touch his works but it is acclaimed by all over.

May 3, 2022 (change May 3, 2022 | 12:02 pm)

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The French sculptor who asks Cattelan for 5 million: “I made those works but no one mentions me”


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