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Paul McCarthy Saloon photographs

cm 49 x 49 cad.
After an early career as a performer in the late 1960s, in the mid-1980s Paul McCarthy began to make mostly videos, films and complex installations in which the characters in the world of fairy tales and American mass culture are reinterpreted, exploring their contradictions, obsessions and darkest sides. Reassuring and familiar images, part of the collective imagination, are distorted by the artist to become monstrous carnivalesque characters, in a radical critique of the stereotypes and the trivialization of American television and the star system in Hollywood. This is the case with Pinocchio (1994), transformed by McCarthy into a puppet which makes foolish moves like smearing itself with ketchup, or Heidi (1992) a terrifying doll that performs bloody actions assisted by an obsessive grandfather. From the 1990s, along with videos, he has been creating complex installations, sculptures and oversized inflatables depicting Christmas trees, elves and toys with strong sexual connotations. The photographs in the series "Saloon Photographs", dedicated to the world of the American western, were taken during the filming of the eponymous film. Far from the idealized figures of the popular imagination, Paul McCarthy’s cowboys are nasty men doomed to failure, pathetic masks emptied of content that perform repetitive and violent gestures. The reassuring images of the American western are thus subverted by the brutality of the scenes that provoke disgust and revulsion in the viewer.
On View
Paul McCarthy, exhibition catalogue (New York, New Museum) Ostfildern 2000. M. af Petersens (ed.), Paul McCarthy, exhibition catalogue (Stockholm, Moderna Museet; Aarhus, Aros; Gent, SMAK), Göttingen 2006. Paul McCarthy, London 2016.
Photo Credits
Foto Roberto Galasso
Legal status
Donation by Claudia Gian Ferrari
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