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Tuesday, July 13, 1999 Published at 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK


Horsing around at the Tate

Maurizio Cattelan's stuffed horse bemuses visitors

Thousands of visitors to London's Tate Gallery over the next few months will be confronted by a stuffed horse dangling from the landmark's elegant high-domed ceiling.

The BBC's Daniel Boettcher: "The Tate says it didn't set out to shock"
It is part of Abracadabra, a provocative new exhibition billed as capturing a "playful" mood in contemporary art.

Italian Maurizio Cattelan's horse, titled Twentieth Century, hangs in a leather harness exactly like the ones used to transport racehorses without injury.

The horse's body was given to the artist by a veterinary college after it died from natural causes.

[ image: Bidibidobidiboo: Another Cattelan masterpiece]
Bidibidobidiboo: Another Cattelan masterpiece
Cattelan is one of 15 artists featured in the show. He's also responsible for Stadium, a seven-metre table football machine for 11-a-side play.

The Italian has also created Bidibidobidiboo, another stuffed animal in trouble - this time it is a squirrel apparently shooting itself at a kitchen table.

Art critic Sacha Craddock says: "In fact it's not particularly shocking. It's actually quite exciting, slightly surreal, rather jokey and designed in such as way as to not take itself too seriously."

Tate curator Simon Wilson believes Abracadabra identifies a new spirit of "fantasy, humour, invention and provocation applied to the everyday world and everyday life".

The exhibition has been compiled by Parisian curator Catherine Grenier and the Tate's Catherine Kinley.

[ image: Stretching the point: Seven-metre table soccer]
Stretching the point: Seven-metre table soccer
Abracadabra's artists are harking back to the Pop Art of the 1960s and surrealism of the 1930s, but did not take themselves so seriously, says Wilson.

Featuring four Belgian artists, Americans, a Japanese artist and only two Britons, it represents a change from the dominance of the Brit Art pack of Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin and company.

British talent is represented by Paul Noble, 36, who has invented an elaborate and unwinnable board game called The Doley Game.

While Emma Kay, 38, has taken her own idiosyncratic recollections of the Bible and the history of the world and typeset them like an authoritative book of reference.

Abracadabra opens to the public on 15 July and will run until 26 September.

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