November 29, 2009

Paul McCarthy: Ineffectual cock-tease?


Paul McCarthy at Hauser and Wirth, installation view.



Paul McCarthy at Hauser and Wirth, installation view.
 
Paul McCarthy, "Inside her Ordeal," 2009, oil stick, charcoal and collage on paper, 127 x 81"


In Time Out New York, Kate Lowenstein is underwhelmed by Paul McCarthy's naughty drawings at Hauser and Wirth. "Paul McCarthy’s trademark work tends to be irresistibly over-the-top—take his barf-inducing performance pieces or his massive Santa with Butt Plug sculptures, for instance. But a drawings-only show? Eh. No matter how daring the content (and hell, nothing is really daring these days), McCarthy’s two-dimensional work simply cannot live up to the ball-busting precedent he set by creating an inflatable pile of shit and a fully functional chocolate factory in a New York gallery (made to churn out small chocolate versions of the aforementioned Santa, of course). Granted, the current drawings, all centered on a 19th-century German tale and its 1937 Disney rendition, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, are studies for future work, but presented this way—as pieces unto themselves—they underwhelm.


"The plans McCarthy lays with these small pencil drawings and large-scale oil-stick works draw attention to the odd story of Snow White—which, upon reflection, is pretty damn weird (as McCarthy suggested back in 2000 with his markedly sinister installation, "Dwarf Head"): What are all those mini men really thinking about the good-looking Miss White, anyway? The brothers Grimm may have spared us the details, but the sexual undertones in the dwarfs’ admiration for their beautiful housemate are pretty inescapable. In McCarthy’s hands, the fairy tale is cast in an unsparingly lascivious light, its main character a sexpot who takes up with her prince while her animal friends linger, their junk hanging out all over the place (oh yes, even Bambi and Thumper have humanoid privates in these pictures). 

"There is an admirable audacity in making monuments to human beings’ basest habits, and McCarthy is most successful when he triggers our gag reflexes in an effort to point out the pitiful state of society and politics. But bringing the viewer into the thought process behind the work—much of which succeeds precisely because of its slick, hyperproduced quality—is unnecessary. It’s one thing to present a show of preparatory sketches for the Pietà; having seen the finished product, it’s a thrill to get a peek into the making of the masterpiece. But plans for artworks that have yet to be made—especially those with little new to say—are nothing but an ineffectual cock-tease."


"Paul McCarthy: White Snow," Hauser and Wirth, New York, NY. Through December 24, 2009.


1 comments:

The only thing he's teasing here is the market. 'Drawings' are just another merchandising niche for Big Mc - something he can tart-up to gallery scale, but are about as integral to the process as the glossy magazines ads.

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