Paul McCarthy, ‘Chocolate Silicone Blockhead’, 1999-2000, Sotheby's: Contemporary Art Day Auction

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

From the Catalogue

Los Angeles-based artist Paul McCarthy is not only one of the most influential artists working in America today, but he has earned this title through the exploration and exploitation of myths and stereotypes in American popular culture. With an astonishing career spanning fifty years across a multitude of mediums including film, painting and sculpture, McCarthy manipulates cherished childhood patriarchal emblems – from the Christmas Tree to Mr. Potato Head – to reflect the darker side of American life. Chocolate Silicone Blockhead's cartoon-like figure does just that by reflecting McCarthy’s observation of the relationship between modern culture, consumerism and preternatural adolescence.

Chocolate Silicone Blockhead adds an additional layer of meaning to McCarthy’s work. Beyond the naïveté of the cartoon-like subject, the vulgarity and sexually perverse Pinocchio nose, both of which are typical of McCarthy, lies the connotation of this work’s epithet-laden title taking a step further into an unsettling blend of humor, horror and subversion. Notions of taboo do not bother McCarthy, he revels in them: “These days, taboo breaking is a pastime akin to golf, or a child’s scavenger hunt. Taboo breakers carry around little scorecards and stubby pencils so they can check off the taboos they are supposedly breaking. McCarthy doesn’t have a scorecard. He’s not breaking taboos. He’s bathing in them.” (Sam Lipsyte, Paul McCarthy, Between Beauty and the Beast: Sculptures, Drawings and Photographs, New York 2006, p. 19).

Termed the “Demented Imagineer” by New York Times, McCarthy has taken what is simple and archetypal of a generation of American popular culture and burnishes the veneer: "Much of my work is about the initiation from innocence to culture. It’s generational, meaning that blame cannot be specific. It's passed down. Where does the perception or action come from? It becomes you. You are it. Culturalized into absurdity. I'm in it, too" (Paul McCarthy, quoted in Hunter Drochojowska-Philp, The Mechanical Id, 2001, www.kunstwissen.de).

Courtesy of Sotheby's

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

About Paul McCarthy

Paul McCarthy is recognized for his provocative, some would say tasteless, performances, multi-media installations, and sculptures that irreverently fuse high and low culture in their biting but humorous critique of American mythology and accepted societal norms. Santa Claus porn videos, Hummel figurine parodies, and chocolate butt plugs are among McCarthy’s most well known pieces. For Train, Mechanical (2003-09), McCarthy created a pair of larger-than-life animated sculptures of George W. Bush mounting pigs from behind. “I'm interested in caricatures—from Miss Piggy to Popeye to Santa Claus—that are cultural fabrications,” McCarthy explains. “Santa is one that I've hung on to longer, that I repeat more. There's the whole thing of Christmas and consumption and commodity, and its relationship to capitalism and Western culture and Americana. The character itself is this roly-poly patriarch with a beard—almost a godlike figure.”

American, b. 1945, Salt Lake City, UT, United States, based in Los Angeles, CA, United States

Group Shows

2017
Beijing,
Virtual Reality Art
2017
New York,
Portable Art: A Project by Celia Forner
2017
2013
NextLevel Galerie, 
Paris,
2012
Museum Ritter, 
Schleswig, Germany,
Art with Chocolate
View Artist's CV