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  • Provenance

    Luhring Augustine, New York

  • Exhibited

    Hamburg Kunstverein, November 11, 2001-January 17, 2002; Haarlem, De Hallen (Frans Hals Museum), September 7-October 27, 2002 and Oslo, Museet for Samtidskunst, March 23-May 25, 2003, Paul McCarthy: Videos 1970-1997, pp. 105-106 (another example exhibited; still images illustrated); Moderna Museet Stockholm, Paul McCarthy Head Shop / Shop Head. Works 1966 – 2006, June 17 – September 3, 2006, pp. 238-239 (another example exhibited; still images illustrated)

  • Literature

    Y, Dziewior, ed. Paul McCarthy: Videos 1970-1997, Cologne, 2003, pp. 105-106 (still images illustrated)
    M. af Petersons and P. McCarthy, eds., Paul McCarthy Head Shop / Shop Head. Works 1966 – 2006, Sweden, 2006, pp. 238-239 (still life images illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Paul McCarthy has developed a signature brand of performance art that tested even the most expansive boundaries of taste and propriety. Inheriting the formal vocabulary of Pop art, McCarthy literally ransacked the symbols of American consumer culture, incorporating popular foodstuffs, children’s toys, and the spirit of B-grade horror films into his outrageous performances. By mutilating dolls, simulating bodily fluids and functions with condiments, and performing numerous other unsavory actions, the artist confronted his audiences with an extremely visceral form of theater.

    McCarthy’s early videos focus on the artist and the environment he is in, occasionally bizarre, but often humorous, self-investigations, McCarthy probes his limits, both physical and mental, turning various body parts [or the whole of his body] into instruments and tools, his body as the stage. (Y. Dziewior, ed. Paul McCarthy Videos 1970-1997, Cologne, p. 21)

    Violence has also been an underlying yet central recurring theme in McCarthy’s performances. Violent acts inflicted upon himself or simulated acts perpetrated against other characters participating in his performances. The focus upon violence is not however isolated or relegated solely to the realm of a broader social context. It is also more tightly focused upon socio-psychological issues dealing with what one can only construe as violence derived from repressed sexual fantasies or deviance. He delves into areas that the general public considers taboo – the family unit, the couple and in the case of the present lot Rocky, the self.

    Rocky, is a nearly 22 minute long exercise in violent masochistic debauchery which fully tests the limits and bounds of the artist’s body. Between an open door and a short section of wall with kitchen shelves on the other side, we see the head of the naked artist in a full head rubber mask of a bandit in a gray hat and stubble beard. Grunting continuously, the artist delivers blow after blow to his face and stomach with boxing-gloved hands. As this goes on, his head keeps shifting out of the film frame. He delivers himself an uppercut, reels, falls against the wall, catching himself again and continues to attack himself. At times, he boxes with an invisible opponent, then returns to attacking his own body. More than once the fight is interrupted for Rocky [and obvious allusion to the title character of the famous Hollywood film of the same name] to smear his penis and buttocks with ketchup. Then he [returns to] delivering powerful blows to his face again, gasping and groaning. [At the end of the film] exhausted, he sinks to the floor.
    (Kristin Schmidt, ibid, p. 104)

    Never intended to simply shock, McCarthy’s performances addressed the socializing power of consumer culture, suggesting that the airbrushed sense of reality we divine from its products leads to intellectual infantilization and sexual repression. By misusing these products in a perverse manner, the artist attempted to disrupt their power from the inside out.



DVD and Beta master in accompanying red plastic case with unique sketch in marker on the cover.
Duration approximately 21 minutes, 30 seconds. Case measures 16 ¼ x 13 ¼ x 2 ¾ in. (41.3 x 33.7 x 6.9 cm.)

Signed, titled and dated “ ‘ROCKY’ 1976 Paul McCarthy” on case; signed titled and dated again “ROCKY / 1976 / Paul McCarthy” on binder edge of case; signed and dated “Paul McCarthy 2004” and numbered of ten on inside front cover of case.
This work is from an edition of ten. Each work from this edition is accompanied by a Beta master copy, DVD, and a unique drawing by the artist on the cover of the plastic case.

$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $108,000

Contemporary Art Part I

16 Nov 2006, 7pm
New York