Where’s Dicky and Puss Puss? Everywhere with Paul McCarthy
New work by artist Paul McCarthy
(**All words and photos by Susan M. Kirschbaum)
Paul McCarthy is nothing if not controversial. He started (surprisingly) as a performance artist notorious for covering himself in ketchup and sticking a Barbie doll up his ass. Yet McCarthy has proven himself ten fold as a gifted sculptor of animals, including pigs who sometimes double as politicians, and Snow White with a bunch of dirty dwarves, a perennial favorite. His etchings of Ms. White, the dwarves, princes, and clowns in fellatio and other turn ons (or offs, depending on your perspective) reveal McCarthy to possess a gifted detailed hand that draws you into the action, like it or not.
Last night’s opening uptown brought out noted artists like video master Tony Oursler, painters Rita Ackermann and Hope Atherton, Nate Lowman and exacting photographer Roni Horn. McCarthy’s an artist’s artist, respected for a no holes barred interpretation of fantasy, sexuality, and the subliminal, which under a lesser creative talent would come off as cheap.
When I broached McCarthy about his subjects — all objects of fetish, whether Angelina Jolie, Britney Spears, KOOL cigarettes, big penises, or Snow White — he paused a moment. “I don’t know if they’re fantasies.” He said, his eyes alighted under a shock of white hair and a beard that makes him look like one of the dwarves himself. “Well, you do use objects of our idolatry.” I said, suggesting he was attempting to knock `em down a peg. He replied. “I thought about them as above and unreal. So maybe it is about taking them down.”
But without McCarthy’s talent as a skilled interpreter, he could be mistaken for a sheer pervert. I find it exciting to see something so honest yet perfectly executed with wild abandon. It’s much less predictable than porn or reality TV and a helluva lot more fun. (Paul McCarthy, White Snow, Hauser & Wirth New York, 32 East 69th Street, Tuesday through Sat, 10 am – 6 pm, through December 24th)
Snow White and the Prince take a piss side by side… by Paul McCarthy