Cattelan started his career in Forlì (Italy) making wooden furniture in the 1980s where he came to know some designers like Ettore Sottsass.
He made a catalogue of his work which he sent to galleries. This promotion gave him an opening in design and contemporary art. He created a sculpture of an ostrich with its head buried in the ground, wore a costume of a figurine with a giant head of Picasso, and affixed a Milanese gallerist to a wall with tape. During this period, he also created the Oblomov Foundation.
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the cylindrical museum building, wider at the top than the bottom, was conceived as a “temple of the spirit” and is one of the 20th century’s most important architectural landmarks. The building opened on October 21, 1959, replacing rented spaces used by the museum since its founding. Its unique ramp gallery extends from just under the skylight in the ceiling in a long, continuous spiral along the outer edges of the building until it reaches the ground level. The building underwent extensive expansion and renovations from 1992 to 1993 (when an adjoining tower was built) and from 2005 to 2008. The museum’s collection has grown organically, over eight decades, and is founded upon several important private collections, beginning with Solomon R. Guggenheim’s original collection. The collection is shared with the museum’s sister museums in Bilbao, Spain, and elsewhere.