Originally stemming from Paul McCarthy and his son Damon’s fascination with the Disneyland amusement park attraction ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ the selection of works includes sculpture, drawing, video and photography, and explores the complex universe of the pirate theme.
McCarthy’s Pirate world offers an allegory of society, focusing on a range of unrestrained behaviours or forms of resistance, from untrammelled greed, rampant commercialisation and social ostentation to sadism, perversion, anarchism and corruption.
Two decades after its inception, the work continues to be relevant in the context of current global conflicts for the way it addresses the links between violence, depravity and masculinity.
Large Pirate Drawing (Poop Deck)
Large Pirate Drawing (Peg Legs)
Larry Clark and Mike Cram
Red Underwater World
Four Pirate Drawings
Ten Pirate Drawings
These works, McCarthy says, lay bare the psychological sources of this wide-ranging project about the imaginary world of pirate yarns. Enormous sheets of paper serve to gather associations and mould thoughts into pictorial form. Combining charcoal, pencil and marker with collage, McCarthy examines the flow of images from the consumer world and the porn industry.
Easter Frigate and Houseboat
Halloween Frigate and Houseboat
Captain Dick Hat
This presentation also features sculptural works that subsequently evolved from the pirate theme and developed its subplots, acting as a continuation of this varied and performative universe. These include the Pirate Head sculptures ‘Pot Head’, ‘Jack’ and ‘Dick Eye’ (2002), which return to different fictitious characters originating from the video performance. Within McCarthy’s work, the sailor and pirate have been key figures for articulating the psychology of a hermetically closed, male-dominated world in which fantasies come to the surface while moral barriers are torn down.
Paul McCarthy and Damon McCarthy: Caribbean Pirates
Hauser & Wirth Publishers ‘Paul McCarthy and Damon McCarthy: Caribbean Pirates’ features two major projects ‘Frigate’ and ‘Houseboat’, alongside an essay by John C. Welchman and a text by the artist. The two volume artist book presents an extensive selection of photographic documentation from the buccaneering series.
Utilising playfully oversized characters and objects, sculptures such as ‘Piggies, Painted’ (2008/2018) and ‘Paula Jones, Painted’ (2007/2018) merge the fantasy Pirate world with figures from the real worlds of politics, philosophy, science, art, literature, film and television.
Pirate Party Photograph Portfolio
Paula Jones, Painted
Cake, Pig Island
Blooty Bone Nose
Through the artist’s own performances or the array of characters he creates, his works aim to demolish the distinction between high and low culture and provoke an analysis of our fundamental beliefs.
Original Pot Head Clay, Resin Block
About the artist
Paul McCarthy is widely considered to be one of the most influential and groundbreaking contemporary American artists. Born in 1945, and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, he first established a multi-faceted artistic practice, which sought to break the limitations of painting by using unorthodox materials such as bodily fluids and food. He has since become known for visceral, often hauntingly humorous work in a variety of mediums – from performance, photography, film and video, to sculpture, drawing and painting.
On view in Monaco
‘Paul McCarthy. Pirates Stew Pot’ is on view now through 27 Aug 2022 at Hauser & Wirth Monaco.
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