Paul McCarthy | Raw Spinoffs Continuations
Hauser & Wirth
551 West 18th Street, NYC 10011
November 10, 2016 – January 14, 2017
For the last exhibition at its West 18th Street location, Hauser & Wirth will present Raw Spinoffs Continuations, a showing of sculptures by Paul McCarthy that will celebrate the artist’s distinctive process in the making and unmaking of an artwork. It will feature works from the artist’s most important projects of the last 15 years, including WS, Caribbean Pirates, and Pig Island.
Also featured in Raw will be a new series by McCarthy of bronze White Snow Dwarfs alongside the original clay sculptures from which they were cast. These most recent works in the artist’s major ongoing project White Snow vividly illustrate the roles that repetition and variation play in his oeuvre. McCarthy’s 2013 video installation at the Park Avenue Armory White Snow is the modern interpretation of Walt Disney’s beloved 1937 animated classic film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in which the original stories’ archetypal narratives are pitched against real human drives and desires.
McCarthy’s original sculpted clay dwarves were altered and distorted variations of Disney’s Seven Dwarfs. Even in their original iterations, McCarthy’s clay figures possessed additional layers of abstraction as a result of having been sculpted and re-sculpted via the artist’s frantic and impulsive performative process. They were subsequently cast in silicone (2010 – 2012), and although those richly colored versions are not included in Raw Spinoffs Continuations, they are integral manifestations of the journey that has produced this remarkable body of work to date. The process of silicone casting abstracted the original clay sculptures further, so that a second casting in bronze have acquired a new degree of rawness and pathos. Presented en masse, McCarthy’s bronze and clay dwarves reveal the artist‘s engagement with the life cycles of materials and together elicit meditations upon time, mortality, and the role of art in a realm of thought beyond the limits of flesh.
Also on view in the exhibition will be the large-scale installation Chop Chop, Chopper, Amputation (2013 – 2016) from McCarthy’s Caribbean Pirates series. In this darkly carnivalesque work, a pair of disjoined clay figures wearing huge pirate hats, loom over a landscape littered with broken body casts, chairs, wooden platforms, sex toys, buckets, mugs, among other detritus, all punctuated by dollops of viscous, deep yellow polyurethane foam. Inspired by the Disneyland attraction ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ the Caribbean Pirates project began in 2001 as a collaboration between Paul McCarthy and his son Damon McCarthy; it has produced a prodigious body of work, including sculptures, performance, and film. Chop Chop, Chopper, Amputation is the merging of a pair of individual large-scale works in the series, based on two drawings by McCarthy – Chopper and Amputation – that were originally intended to stand independently from one another. Envisioned as a pirate boat, the installation rests on carpets that stand in for water filled with debris: the trash that has been thrown overboard by the vessel’s unruly occupants.
Along with Chop Chop, Chopper, Amputation, the exhibition includes Amputation (AMP), Blue Fiberglass (2013 – 2016), a blue fiberglass cast of ‘Amputation’ never before exhibited. ‘Chop Chop, Chopper, Amputation’ will have changed from previous showings due to the process of removing ‘Amputation’ from the larger work in order to mold and cast the blue fiberglass iteration. As with the clay dwarf sculptures, ‘Amputation’ has undergone a separate journey and further abstraction in McCarthy’s endless loop of action.
The exhibition will be completed by ‘Paula Jones’ (2005 – 2008) and ‘Puppet’ (2005 – 2008), both born out of McCarthy’s mammoth, celebrated opus ‘Pig Island’ (2005 – 2010). Combining political figures and elements drawn from pop culture, ‘Pig Island’ evolved over seven years in the artist’s studio, ultimately becoming a surreal compilation of themes that have coursed through McCarthy’s work for decades. Originally conceptualized as an island of robotic pirates and pigs, drawing inspiration from the earlier ‘Piccadilly Circus’ (2003), ‘Pig Island’ is populated by pirates, pigs, likenesses of George W. Bush and Angelina Jolie, an assortment of Disney characters, and the artist himself, all carousing in a state of reckless abandon. Originally part of this dark bacchanal, the sculptures ‘Puppet’ and ‘Paula Jones’ feature caricatures of former President George W. Bush and pot-bellied pigs engaged in sexual acts.