American artist Paul McCarthy has always challenged his viewers with his work. By incorporating sex and/or violence into his sculptures and bodily fluids into his performances, McCarthy pushes buttons and makes aggressive statements about society and its norms, pop culture and its icons. From his frequent depictions of penises and poop (he's used excrement as a medium as well) to his chocolate Santa Claus butt plugs, McCarthy employs shock value tactics that I typically find annoying, but for some reason can't not pay attention to when McCarthy is involved.
His current show, White Snow at Upper East Side gallery Hauser & Wirth, forces viewers to see the 19th-century, German tale and 1937 Disney animated classic, Snow White, through adulterated, x-rated eyes. McCarthy created large-scale drawings, some are 10 feet tall, featuring Snow White and Prince Charming engaged in a variety of sexual positions, collaged alongside images culled from porn magazines, Christie's auction catalogues, gossip and lad rags. Also interspersed throughout the drawings are scribbles of Snow White's happy, forest critter friends, excited dwarves, penises, cut-outs shaped like vaginas, as well as color, computer print-outs and Calvin Klein ads or pictures of Britney Spears and Angelina Jolie torn from magazines. Upstairs are several, well-composed pencil drawings featuring Snow White masturbating, the Dwarves with un-dwarf-like penises for noses, and a series of drawings of Snow White taking a crap in front of her shocked or amused forest animal friends.
While the exhibit is initially funny and addresses what most adults likely think regarding the virginal Snow White shacking up in the woods with seven little men, it starts to feel like an overdone joke once you reach the second floor. According to the show's press release, the works in White Snow are "early investigations into his characters" that "will ultimately give rise to sculptures, installations, a film and other works over time," which adds to the notion that the 64-year-old McCarthy's drawings are akin to the doodles a bored, teenage boy makes along the margins in his school notebooks. Learn more at Hauserwirth.com. Through December 24th.
Standing (8 from a set of 16), 2008-2009