White Snow, Bookends, 2013. Black walnut, 2 elements, 14 ft. high.

Paul McCarthy: Rotten to the Core

Paul McCarthy’s exhibition at Hauser & Wirth’s gigantic 18th Street space included sculpture carved out of blocks of walnut that were pieced together from dark and lighter segments of wood. From these composite blocks, McCarthy produced medium-size to colossal tchotchkes (a genre that is dear to him), thereby entering the arena in which Jeff Koons has been working for more than 30 years. Koons, the come-back kid who has been getting a huge amount of attention recently, is the man to both paraphrase and beat. His sensibility, though, is very different from McCarthy’s—aiming for immaculacy and perfection. McCarthy’s carved imagery was drawn from Walt Disney’s 1937 animated film version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs—funny, sentimental, sexual, and at times frightening children’s stuff, and Koonsian territory, par excellence. However, McCarthy—like his friend Mike Kelley, with whom he occasionally collaborated—takes us from childhood longings back to the darkest recesses of infantile behavior. As we age, some of us hold on to imagery that transports us back to a time when we believe we were happier, even if only momentarily, inside the movie theater or in front of a TV screen…see the entire article in the print version of May’s Sculpture magazine.