Paul McCarthy - Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, June 28, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

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

  • Exhibited

    New York, L&M Arts, Beyond Black, White, and Gray, 12 September–10 October 2009 (another example exhibited)

  • Catalogue Essay

    As one of the most influential artists of his generation, Paul McCarthy challenges the conventions of art to reveal the darker side of Western society. Combining icons from popular culture with ideas of social taboo, his art functions as a critique that focuses on social and cultural traumas rather than personal issues. McCarthy lives and works in Los Angeles, a city rich in search of the American Dream. In Hollywood there exists the unsettling blend of contradictions; the natural and artificial, humour and horror, to consume or be consumed, and it is these types of themes,driven by commercial culture, that underlie the present work Stainless Steel Butt Plug.

    Continuing with topics explored early in McCarthy’s career and further developed in the 1980s and 90s with his sculptures, mechanized figures and video installations, the current lot questions the preconceived notions of gender and sexuality. A phallic-like shape is cast in metal and enlarged to a monstrous size that unsettles, threatens and disturbs the viewer. Stainless Steel Butt Plug explores the dichotomy of the object’s sexuality by detaching the penis from the human form, consequently raising the issue of masculinity under threat of castration. McCarthy’s work embarks on conflicting themes in order to provide simultaneous feelings of disgust, terror and laughter that reflect his views on modern America. This kitsch and sexual object undermines the tradition of sculpture as a celebration of the good and the great, and instead heralds
    forms of low culture obsessed over by modern America and the Western world as a whole.


Stainless Steel Butt Plug

polished stainless steel
88.9 × 55.9 × 40.6 cm (35 × 22 × 16 in)
This work is number 2 from an edition of 5 plus 2 artist’s proofs.

£250,000 - 350,000 

Contemporary Art Day Sale

29 June 2012