Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Maurizio Cattelan (Italian, b. 1960)

Felix, 2001

Oil on polyvinyl resin and fiberglass

26 x 6 x 20 ft. (7.9 x 1.8 x 6.1 m)

Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. The Edlis/Neeson Art Purchase Fund.

Maurizio Cattelan’s giant cat, named Felix after the famous cartoon cat created in the early twentieth century by Otto Messmer (American, 1892–1983) draws on popular culture and delves into our collective imagination and desire for spectacle. Measuring more than 46 feet in length with a tail that extends 26 feet in the air, the cat skeleton dwarfs a human being, playing with scale to shift the power relationship with the viewer.

As in his other works, Cattelan experiments with how viewers must suspend their disbelief in order to succumb to the fantasy of his vision. In 2001, when visiting Chicago in preparation for a commission at the MCA, Cattelan was inspired by Sue—the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered—at the Field Museum of Natural History. Cattelan designed Felix for a particular space, the MCA atrium, and wanted his work to become a popular museum attraction, like Sue.