‘Paul McCarthy. Pirates Stew Pot’ at Hauser & Wirth Monaco marks the twentieth anniversary of McCarthy’s Pirate Project. One of his most important bodies of work, the show highlights the artist’s dedication to this theme across multiple strands since 2001.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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