A Look at Toilet Paper, the Art Book That Gets ‘Into the Lower Side of Your Stomach’

Photo: Courtesy of Artbook

On Monday night, members of the fashion and art worlds packed into the Gramercy loft of Laurent Claquin, the head of PPR Americas, to pick up a hardcover copy of Toilet Paper, based on artist Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari’s magazine by the same name. The two met in 2009, when Dennis Freedman, then creative director of W (and currently creative director of Barneys), had them shoot an editorial together for the magazine’s “Art Issue.” A year later, the inaugural Toilet Paper went to print, and the book, published by Freedman/Damiani, includes images from the first five iterations, pairing them with unexpected text.

No words could prepare partygoers for the photos — a tampon and maxipad arrangement, bloody fish-heads as shoes, dildos, and a bird with its wing between scissor blades. A Toilet Paper image is “something that gets really into the lower side of your stomach, and then you need to release it,” Cattelan told the Cut. Freedman explained, “It’s like, when a little kid gets a coloring book and there’s lots of outlines and there’s lots of ideas but you get to fill in the color. And I think with a book like this you start seeing these very strange juxtapositions, none of which are telling you what it’s saying, so it takes your own imagination to sort of connect the dots,” before adding, “At the end of the day, there are no dots to connect, as life is.”

As for the text, chosen especially for the book, “the last thing we want to do is put in explanatory text or interview because … the nature of the pictures really seems in some ways alien to the idea of this explanation or questioning,” Freedman said. “So at one point, somehow it popped into one of our heads, why don’t we use text that relates in more conceptually to the pictures, meaning they all have a kind of strange inversion of reality, but they are reality.” The pieces are each pulled from another source, like: “12 Killed When Tank of Molasses Explodes” (the New York Times), “List of Scandals With ’-Gate’ Suffix” (Search on Wikipedia.org), and “A Modest Proposal” (Jonathan Swift).

Click ahead to see images from the book.

The Art Book That ‘Gets Into Your Stomach’