Paul McCarthy Ship Adrift, Ship of Fools

16 November 2011 – 15 February 2012, St. James's Square

Paul McCarthy is one of America’s most influential artists. Based in Los Angeles, California, McCarthy is known for his challenging work in a variety of media including performance, drawing, painting and sculpture. His work has been shown in major institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York NY; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Whitechapel Gallery, London, England; and Tate Modern, London, England.

McCarthy’s ‘Ship Adrift, Ship of Fools’ (2010 – 2011), on view in St. James’s Square until 15 February 2012, is a monumental bronze sculpture of a small ship carrying ten abstracted children. McCarthy has modelled the work on Hummels, mid-century kitsch German figurines that embodied innocence and purity. Here, McCarthy explores cultural representations of childhood and naivety, themes that have played a significant role throughout his artistic practice.

Scattered around the sculpture’s base are paintbrushes, pipes, and buckets overflowing with foam resting on a plush carpet and – like the ship – memorialised in bronze. These miscellaneous items from the artist’s studio are remnants of the work’s construction. They mark the passage of time and document McCarthy’s unique sculptural process.