Paul McCarthy - Under the Influence New York Friday, March 7, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Hauser & Wirth, Zurich
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2006

  • Catalogue Essay

    Paul McCarthy is one of the most idiosyncratic, important, and influential artists working today. Throughout his astonishing career, he has consistently challenged conventional artistic practice, forging a body of work that continues to fascinate and titillate. In a uniquely American manner McCarthy reinterprets fairy tales, childhood stories, and the seedier aspects of old Hollywood films and television to create works that stand as gloriously macabre perversions of their source material. In this fashion, Santa Sac, Black, Double Head, 2 Butt Plugs, Sac Butt Plug not Stick from 2006, is an iconic example of McCarthy’s sculptural practice. Cast in black urethane, the work depicts Santa standing astride his sac, from which one plug protrudes suggestively and menacingly while the other hems him in from behind. Usually a harbinger of cheer and goodwill, not to mention presents, in McCarthy’s realization Santa bears a raunchier gift. McCarthy’s defilement of a figure from the childhood world of magic and fairy tales is a deliciously perverted subliminal attack on the sanctity of juvenile memories: a seemingly innocent tale adapted and re-imagined through a darkly adult lens. McCarthy has spoken of his belief that his work is influenced by his own childhood experiences and recollections. This concept of ‘repression’ and the release of earlier trauma invoke Freudian theories of the unconscious and infantile sexuality. Santa Sac, Black, Double Head, 2 Butt Plugs, Sac Butt Plug not Stick is the product of childhood fears and urges that are sublimated here in a fantastical and ghoulish re-incarnation of a fairy-tale character – an interpretation ingeniously imbued with the artist’s trademark mordant humor and psychosexual underpinnings.


Santa Sac, Black, Double Head, 2 Butt Plugs, Sac Butt Plug no stick

2004 - 2006
urethane, brass pipe, epoxy
11 x 6 1/2 x 9 in. (27.9 x 16.5 x 22.9 cm.)
Inscribed "Doc Johnson" on the butt plug.
This work is unique.

$40,000 - 60,000 

Contact Specialist
Benjamin Godsill
Head of Sale
+1 212 940 1256

Under the Influence

New York Auction 7 March 2014 2pm