Art Star Gives Milan The Finger — In Statue Form

Thanks to artist Maurizio Cattelan — the prankster artist and sculpter who splits his time between the East Village and Italy — an 11-meter installation of a severed hand with its middle finger firmly raised is currently placed in front of the Milan Stock Exchange. The bird-flipping effigy is called “L.O.V.E.”

The decision to direct such a blunt gesture toward Italy’s financial headquarters has drawn criticism, but Massimiliano Finazzer Flory — the splendidly named Milanese commissioner for culture — defends Cattelan’s works, telling Reuters that they “call our times into question, offering themselves as a mirror, however cracked, of our present.”

Cattelan’s most well-known work may be “La Nona Hora,” which depicts Pope John Paul II getting smashed in by a meteorite. He also was commissioned by Interview publisher Peter Brant to make a bust of his off-again on-again supermodel wife Stephanie Seymour naked and clutching her breasts. The sculpture — nicknamed “Trophy Wife” — will be sold in an auction by Phillips, de Pury & Co. on Nov. 8. 

Of the “L.O.V.E.” sculpture, Cattelan has said that “it is mainly about imagination” — interesting, because an enormous hand flicking off a stock exchange doesn’t exactly leave much to the imagination.