American artist Paul McCarthy is known for his wide-ranging and often provocative and disturbing oeuvre, which encompasses performance, photography, film, multimedia installations, sculpture, drawing and painting. Messy, antagonistic, sexually explicit and politically charged, McCarthy’s output takes aim at consumerism, popular culture and our innermost fears and neuroses, such as sex, bodily fluids and human orifices. While he regularly appropriates icons of popular culture and childhood, including gnomes, Santa Claus, Barbie, Snow White and Heidi in his work, McCarthy inevitably recasts his characters as violent, malicious and depraved. His imagery, which can be both explicit and brutal, is often shocking, and he delights in sensory overload, frequently producing work that is either difficult to watch, or is deliberately intended to elicit feelings of discomfort and disgust. In a career spanning some five decades, McCarthy has come to be recognised as one of the greatest chroniclers, and transgressors, of contemporary social norms and taboos. Mercilessly ridiculing authority and the so-called rules of polite society, his anarchic oeuvre mixes both high and low culture, and provokes an analysis of our most fundamental and sacrosanct beliefs.
Paul McCarthy (b. 1945, Salt Lake City) lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Solo exhibitions were held at Faurschou Foundation in Venice, Venice, 2017; Fundació Gaspar, Barcelona, 2017; Kulturzentrum Lokremise, St.Gallen, 2016; The Renaissance Society, Chicago, 2015; Monnaie de Paris, France, 2014; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 2012; Whitney Museum, New York, 2008; SMAK, Ghent, 2007; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2006; and Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2005. He has also participated in many international events, including the Berlin Biennial (2006); the Whitney Biennial (1995, 1997, 2004); and the Venice Biennale (1993, 1999, 2001).