Paul McCarthy - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Flick Collection, Zurich; Luhring Augustine, New York

  • Exhibited

    Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 12 November, 2000 – 21 January, 2001; New York, New Museum of Contemporary Art, 21 February – 13 May, 2001; Paul McCarthy

  • Literature

    M. Petersens, Paul McCarthy: Head Shop, Shop Head : Works 1966-2006, Stockholm, 2006; L.Phillips, D.Cameron, A.Vidler, A.Jones, Paul McCarthy, Los Angeles/New York, 2000

  • Catalogue Essay

    A big blonde, blue-eyed female head looming periodically above the swinging doors of an orange saloon, a dog-headed bartender laconically pours a drink while the blonde offers her bare bottom to a masturbating cowboy while the sound of gunshots ring out. Nearby, a two-faced (young and old) Indian maid drums listlessly on a tom-tom; her brown-stockinged legs are footless stumps. This is the world created in Bunkhouse through the appropriation of ironic storytelling gone twisted through the eyes of long standing inventor / artist Paul McCarthy.
    Reminiscent of a ride at a Disneyland theme park, the low-tech aesthetics, the fake structures, make believe landscapes, the bromidic figuration of malign characters who beneath their banal expressions deliver a carnivalesque and explicit reflection on America and the predatory violence surrounding the theatrical adherence of the new world. A world continuing today in the artists view, concealed behind the illusion of manifest destiny, the corruption of ideal bodies we know from advertisements and the sterile world which society tries to protect and maintain in order for regulation.
    This Wild West frontier image which McCarthy depicts in his installation is a main source for comment. The backdrop of destiny, a frontier corresponds to a world in which one can either win or lose when measured up against the expectations one’s destiny dictates. An optimistic belief in transforming a geographical site into a stage on which this divine destiny of self-fulfillment could be played out has also been – and continues to be - held in check by a second factor.  Serving as the seminal metaphor for continual struggle, the frontier – both as a reality and as the imaginary landscape of the Western genre – points to the way any performance of the American dream always also required the deployment of violence.
    “…The discovery of America as well as the conquering of the West was after all, always conceived as a performance.  When the pilgrims first set foot on American soil, it was like walking onto a stage.  They had come to think of themselves as chosen by God to cross the ocean, an errand to found a New Israel.  The land they embarked upon was never simply a geographic site.  Conceived as a land promised to them, it was the site where they were to fulfill the right to ascent and salvation found in the texts of their prophets.” 
    E. Bronfen ‘Simulations of the Real” Paul McCarthy’s Performative Disasters’ in Paul McCarthy: Lala Land Parody Paradise, New York, 2005, p. 227
    Outlaws and cowboys just as bankers and pilgrims, the materialization of fate which each individual perceives to fulfill, sometimes taking the law into their own hands, shootouts and robberies, white collared crimes and / or corrupt tactics, all in the sake of gaining celebrity, prosperity and recognition amongst others. This baleful drama is magnified tenfold by McCarthy in his Yaa Hoo Town series which includes the present lot.
    One of the most intriguing factors surrounding the artist’s work is his ability to convert the public from viewer to voyeur, the latter a manifestation of a hidden psyche which attaches people to his deprived and sinister worlds. Undoubtedly some turn away but the image will remain, a hound’s iniquitous grin, a phallic object replacing a nose, the sound of a disquieting moment. Our perception is choreographed, manipulated, an implicit metaphor for some larger truth about cultural conditioning. Sneakily, it implicates us by our curiosity as if Bunkhouse reveals precisely too much about the general human mindset attached to the spectator and in that setting makes us realize that fragment about ourselves which occulted away within the forest like a cabin, it conceals itself like a taboo.
    “Perhaps this physical reaction, the realisation that the work before us is potentially dangerous – is a veritable sign of actually having understood the work – and perhaps this also applies to the feelings of disgust, terror and laughter – that most of us experience immediately when confronted with many of Paul McCarthy’s works. While being redolent with art historic influences and current political references, more than anything they hit you right in the guts.”
    M. Petersens Paul McCarthy’s 40 years of hard work – an attempt at a summary, Moderna Museet, 2006


Bunk House

Metal, mechanical parts, fiberglass, paints, programmable logic controllers, pneumatic cylinders and components, air compressors, sound generated from pre-programmed CD player, wood, clothing, wigs and accessories.
Bunkhouse: 242 cm x 350 x 355 cm. (95 1/4 x 137 3/4 x 139 3/4 in). Bunk bed: 175 cm x 182 cm x 74 cm. (68 7/8 x 71 5/8 x 29 1/8 in). Four figures: standing; 187cm. (73 5/8 in). One on knees: 115cm. (45 1/4 in). Two laying in bed are each: 182cm. (71 5/8 in). Electrical track: 19m. (748 in). Green fence: 280 x 600 cm. (110 1/4 x 236 in). Site specific cast wall: 430 x 600 x 200 cm. (169 1/4 x 236 x 78 3/4 in). Each hydraulic tank: 50 x 30 x 80 cm. (19 3/4 x 11 7/8 x 31 1/2 in).

£1,500,000 - 2,000,000 

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

29 June 2008, 5pm