Author: Maurizio Cattelan

Title: L.O.V.E.

Date: 2010

Location: piazza degli Affari, Milan

Above: Maurizio Cattelan, L.O.V.E., 2010, piazza degli Affari, Milan, photo by Andrea Scuratti – Comune di Milano.

In the center of a square whose buildings welcome the world of Milanese finance, stands a huge sculpture in Carrara marble depicting a hand with four severed fingers (only the middle finger remains, in a rather scornful gesture). The sculpture stands on a travertine base: the whole reaches a height of 11 meters. An alienating and surreal image, but also perfectly resonant with the surrounding architectural context.

Placed for an expected period of two weeks in 2010, on the occasion of an exhibition by Maurizio Cattelan at Palazzo Reale, the work then remained permanently, not without controversy, at the behest of the council of Mayor Pisapia and the then Councilor for Culture Stefano Boeri. Entering the dense network of streets that leads from Cordusio to Piazza degli Affari, one suddenly finds oneself in front of this enormous disturbing object, and the effect is one of estrangement and surprise (it cannot be denied that the hand, deprived of fingers except that of the middle one, is engaged in an irreverent gesture). Despite of this first shock, the passerby gets soon used to Cattelan’s work, and cannot help but grasp the perfect, even classic accords between the two marbles (of the sculpture and of the base) and the marbles of the buildings in the square, rearranged in the 1930s by architect Paolo Mezzanotte in a mood reminiscent of Pittura Metafisica.

Since the beginning, a wide range of interpretations have flourished on this work, from the intent of mocking the world of finance then in crisis to the allusion to the fascist salute that the hand, once reassembled, would unequivocally make: all inferences never denied or confirmed by the artist, who instead entitled his work with an acronym, also variously legible: L.O.V.E., which stands for Italian words for Freedom, Hatred, Revenge, Eternity.