Go See – New York: Paul McCarthy ‘White Snow’ at Hauser & Wirth through December 24, 2009

November 17th, 2009

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Paul McCarthy “[Shit Pie (White Snow)]” (2009), at Hauser & Wirth.

Hauser & Wirth’s New York gallery is showing an entirely new collection of works by Paul McCarthy. “White Snow” presents two sets of drawings, created through and commenting on the classic fairy tale “Snow White.”  It brings together one of the original versions of the story, the 19th century German “Schneewittchen [Snow White],” and Disney’s 1937 re-imagining of the beloved folk tale.  The show closes on December 24.

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Paul McCarthy, “[White Snow] Inside the Dwarfs House” (2009), at Hauser & Wirth.

more images and story after the jump…

The first series in “White Snow” is comprised of of small black-and-white pencil drawings. Snow White is a young girl, at times masturbating and dancing. The male dwarves have long phallic noses, reminiscent of Williams’ “Smell” that begs the narrator’s nose, “Must you always have a part in everything?” At points whimsical and delicately devastating, this series is a story of gendered maturation and upset.

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Paul McCarthy, “White Snow and Prince” (2009), at Hauser & Wirth.

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Paul McCarthy, “White Snow and Dwarves and Dreaming” (2008-2009), at Hauser & Wirth.

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Paul McCarthy, “White Snow Standing Sculpture Study” (2008-2009), at Hauser & Wirth.

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Above, Paul McCarthy, “[White Snow] Dwarf Heads” (2009); below, “[White Snow] Dwarf Heads” (2008) detail at Hauser & Wirth
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Above and below, further detail from Paul McCarthy’s “[White Snow] Dwarf Heads” (2009), at Hauser & Wirth.
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Paul McCarthy, “White Snow in Nature” (2009), at Hauser & Wirth.

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Paul McCarthy, “White Snow Sex Group” (2009), at Hauser & Wirth.

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“White Snow – Sitting Sculpture Study” (2008), at Hauser & Wirth.

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Paul McCarthy, “White Snow [group 1]” (2008), at Hauser & Wirth.

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Above, Paul McCarthy, “White Snow [group 2]” (2008-2009); below, detail (2008) at Hauser & Wirth.
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The second series draws images from tabloids and illustrations, porn and auction catalogues. A deliberate mixing of traditionally high and low art, coupled with the transcriptive and trans-cultural nature of the show, lends “White Snow” another appropriative level. “White Snow” is already based in and out of appropriation. It flips the conventional title of the fairy tale to one that fits a common semantic phrase regarding a concrete, recognized object (precipitation). It informs its audience that the works are a commentary on Disney’s commentary of the ‘original’ German folk tale, itself a commentary on earlier oral versions of the story. The narratives diverge through each of these retellings, McCarthy says: they are perverted until White Snow masturbates alone in a field. The show, after all, is twofold, the first seemingly a retelling of the German folk tale, the second, a retelling of Disney’s story — and the retellings comment on each other as the narratives do. By virtue of their juxtaposition, the two halves of the show have gallery patrons analyzing them relative to each other, and coming out of the exhibition with their own narratives, constructed of a singular patron’s interaction with the show. This is appropriation and perversion, broken telephone at its proverbial best.

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Paul McCarthy, “Farrah Fawcett [White Snow]” (2009), at Hauser & Wirth.

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Paul McCarthy, “White Snow, Ginger Then” (2009), at Hauser & Wirth.

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Paul McCarthy, “White Snow Dwarves” (2009), via Hauser & Wirth.

Paul McCarthy studied at the University of Utah before gaining his BFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute and an MFA in film and video from the University of Southern California. He has had exhibitions at the Deste Foundation, Athens; New York’s Museum of Modern Art; LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art; Kunsthalle Mannheim; Gagosian New York; Stockholm’s Moderna Museet; Tates Modern and Liverpool; Deitch Projects, New York; and more. His work was featured in the Fine Art Fair Frankfurt 2007 and the 2003 Lyon Biennale.  Represented by Hauser & Wirth, he has had both a 2007 solo show and a 2002 exhibition with Jason Rhoades at Hauser & Wirth Zürich, as well as a 2003 solo show at Hauser & Wirth London. McCarthy has taught performance, installation, video, and performance art history at USC-LA.

Related links:
White Snow – Hauser & Wirth
Paul McCarthy [artnet]

– R. Fogel