Lot 237: Paul McCarthy
Untitled (Tokyo Santa #2)
Image/sheet (vis.): 68.5" x 47";
Frame: 71.5" x 50.5"
Literature: Paul McCarthy: Tokyo Santa. Köln: Verlag der Bucchandlung Walther König, 2004. np.
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Artist Paul McCarthy (b. 1945) takes the philosophies and characters that Americans hold most dear and lampoons them in sculpture, performance, and video works. Combining opposing values of the erotic and vulgar with innocence, nostalgia, and charm, McCarthy upends cultural codes and questions what he sees as being arbitrary assignations of value and morality. In a series of performances and mixed-media installations staged in Tokyo, Zürich, and Santa Monica in the late 1990s, McCarthy targeted the cherubic Santa Claus of holiday folklore. McCarthy plays the role of a frightening, bumbling Santa Claus in his performance Tokyo Santa (1999). In Untitled (Tokyo Santa #2), a still taken from the performance, he wears a gruesome rubber mask and is seemingly bloodied. Instead of a fur-trimmed velvet suit, McCarthy's Santa is stripped down to his long underwear. Santa crouches down boorishly, as brown liquid shoots out seemingly from his groin. In McCarthy's body of work, the recurrent reference to bodily excretions and genitals serves to shock and humiliate, as well as to break down a false sense of decorum and subjective standards. For example, McCarthy frequently uses staples of the wholesome American pantry such as mayonnaise, ketchup, and Hershey's chocolate syrup to mimic unsavory bodily fluids.
Klein, Jennie. "Paul McCarthy: Rites of Masculinity." PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art. Vol. 23, No. 2 (May, 2001): 10-17. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.
McCarthy, Paul. Tokyo Santa. Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2004. Print.