SAM: Art Critics Love Jerks Like Maurizio Cattelan

Even if he does traumatize children.

Any art that traumatizes children is OK in my book. A museum guard says he recently watched a boy from a school group standing in front of Cheap to Feed, clapping his hands over and over in an apparent attempt to wake the dog up. I got news for you, kid: That dog ain't getting up. He's dead; his guts have been torn out and replaced with stuffing by artist Maurizio Cattelan. Why did Cattelan do this to his own pet? Well, for the same reason he made a sculpture of a squirrel that's committed suicide by gun, or a sculpture of Pope John Paul II getting knocked over by a meteorite. He's a jerk, you see, and art critics love jerks. Plus, this particular piece, aside from being a sly take on the tradition of still-life memento mori, is pretty funny. Wait until a break in the guards—illicit petting makes this one of the highest-patrolled areas of SAM, after all—and now watch: You can pull the dog's tail. Or make its little mouth move with your hands. Rrrf! Where're my bones? Oh, stop crying. At least the animal died of old age. Supposedly. With a 2002 auction price of $163,500, you can never be too sure.

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