Paul McCarthy | Lifecasting

Surrounded by various figurative sculptures in progress in his Los Angeles studio, including an over-sized bust of President George W. Bush, artist Paul McCarthy discusses the process of casting from life and the resulting perfections and imperfections.

Paul McCarthy’s video-taped performances and provocative multimedia installations lampoon polite society, ridicule authority, and bombard the viewer with a sensory overload of often sexually-tinged, violent imagery. With irreverent wit, McCarthy often takes aim at cherished American myths and icons—Walt Disney, the Western, and even the Modern Artist—adding a touch of malice to subjects that have been traditionally revered for their innocence or purity. Whether conflating real-world political figures with fantastical characters such as Santa Claus, or treating erotic and abject content with frivolity and charm, McCarthy’s work confuses codes, mixes high and low culture, and provokes an analysis of fundamental beliefs.

Through February 28 (this weekend!) Tank.tv is showing two of McCarthy’s video works: Family Tyranny and Cultural Soup. Both works — cut from two days of taped performance at a community television studio in 1987 — feature fellow Art21 artist Mike Kelley. Tank.tv calls the videos a “disturbing tableaux of familial horror, steeped in the stomach turning abjection” of McCarthy’s practice.

Paul McCarthy is featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode Transformation of the Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS.

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Robert Elfstrom. Sound: Doug Dunderdale. Editor: Lizzie Donahue & Joaquin Perez. Artwork Courtesy: Paul McCarthy. Special Thanks: Jacobine van der Meer.

Contributor
Wesley Miller is the associate curator at ART21. Miller co-curates the television series Art in the Twenty-First Century. He is also co-creator of the series New York Close Up.
  1. Joe Fusaro says:

    It’s the “finding something else in the process” that I enjoy so much.

    Reply

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  3. Gabrielle says:

    Beautiful results of Bush and the figure. I too have attachments to my work and theyt leave a mark on me.

    Reply

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