Assortment, The Trunks, Human Object and PROPO Photographs (detail)
1972 – 2003
Six trunks containing props from performances 1972 – 1984, Human Object, stool, plastic bag, wooden and steel table, photographs
335 x 304 x 122 cm / 132 x 120 x 48 in
1 September – 20 October 2012.
Source: Hauser & Wirth
McCarthy's debased and dirtied photographic subjects have a unique history. They began as props in McCarthy's early performances, and in the early Eighties, they were packed into suitcases and trunks, which were then stacked on a table and re-invented as the sculpture 'Assortment, The Trunks, Human Object and PROPO Photographs' (1972 – 2003). The lids of the cases remained unopened until the early Nineties when McCarthy individually photographed each of the props, creating 'PROPO', a collection of documentation-style photographs and a record of his dark humour and subversive social critique.
McCarthy began his live performances in the late Sixties. Seen initially by only a handful of people, these were raucous, riotous parodies of society, relationships, sex and pop culture, which tested the physical and mental boundaries of both the viewer and the artist. Videos of two of McCarthy's most well-known early performances, 'Sailor's Meat' (1975) and 'Tubbing' (1975), as well as photographs taken during the performances, will be on view in the basement gallery of Hauser & Wirth Zürich.
About the artist
Born in 1945 in Salt Lake City, Utah, Paul McCarthy is one of the most important and influential contemporary American artists. McCarthy's numerous solo exhibitions include 'The Box', currently on view at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany (Until 4 November 2012); the artist's first transatlantic exhibitions, 'The King, The Island, The Train, The House, The Ship' and 'The Dwarves, The Forests', which opened respectively at Hauser & Wirth London and Hauser & Wirth New York in 2011; 'Pig Island', Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan, Italy (2010); 'White Snow', Hauser & Wirth New York NY (2009); 'Paul McCarthy – Air Pressure', an exhibition of inflatable sculptures at De Uithof, City of Utrecht, Netherlands (2009); 'Central Symmetrical Rotation Movement – Three Installations, Two Films', Whitney Museum of American Art, New York NY (2008) and the travelling retrospective, 'Paul McCarthy – Head Shop / Shop Head' which first opened at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2006); and travelled to Aarhus Museum of Art, Aarhus, Denmark (2007) and Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (2007 – 2008).