Episode #142: Artist Paul McCarthy discusses his interest in art as political theater and his sculptures as akin to amusement park rides. Featuring the works “Bang Bang Room” (1992), “Spinning Room” (2008), and “Mad House” (2008) in the exhibition “Paul McCarthy: Central Symmetrical Rotation Movement, Three Installations, Two Films” (2008) at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
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.
Paul McCarthy is featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode Transformation of the Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS. Watch full episodes online for free via PBS Video or Hulu, as a paid download via iTunes (link opens application), or as part of a Netflix streaming subscription.