Paul McCarthy

Paul McCarthy is an American contemporary artist working across media in performance, sculpture, and film. Inspired by American popular culture, lewd sexual innuendo, and the work of Joseph Beuys, McCarthy constructs complicated critiques of consumerism and art. “I had this thing about exposing the interior of the body,” the artist has said, “the orifices leading into the body, and what the interior was, and the taboos of the interior.” His work aims to make his audience feel uncomfortable and often succeeds in stirring controversy, notably in 2014 when his sculpture Tree—a green inflatable that resembled a butt plug—was defaced and then removed within two days of its installation in Paris’ Place Vendôme. Among his recurring themes is the satirizing of the iconic male painter, as seen in his seminal video Painter (1995), which depicts a buffoonish, arrogant artist in the vein of Abstract Expressionism. Born on August 4, 1945 in Salt Lake City, UT, he went on to receive his MFA from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. His work is in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C., among others. McCarthy lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.