From Paul McCarthy's WS. Photo by Joshua White.
From Paul McCarthy's WS. Photo by Joshua White.

Paul McCarthy's adults-only fairytale opens today

WS redraws the German fairytale Snow White as an immersive, X-rated New York installation

Visitors to Paul McCarthy's massive new installation, WS, won't be surprised to learn that the artist cites children's TV as a greater influence on his ribald, scatological art, than more obvious, high-brow influences, like Viennese Actionism. While the lewd and messy work might have familial resemblances to earlier European artists, WS is more akin to the kitsch, commercial works, far closer to home.

 

Paul McCarthy's WS
Paul McCarthy's WS

WS is a version of the Snow White fairy tale; though it owes more to Walt Disney than the Brothers Grimm. The piece is both a video work and an installation. The moving images were shot over a month at McCarthy's studio in Los Angeles, and features the artist as an avuncular, Walt Disney-style character, Paul White, cavorting with some distinctly /frat boy dwarves and a couple of wanton Snow Whites. Seven hours of footage will be shown on four screens within a fabulous forest, and a 3/4 scale reconstruction of Paul McCarthy's childhood home, all inside the Park Avenue Armory.

 

Paul McCarthy as Paul White in WS
Paul McCarthy as Paul White in WS

85 trucks carried the work across the continental United States earlier this year, from Los Angeles to the Armory, New York's drill hall turned arts space which hosts the 8,800-square feet show from today until August 4.

The show, McCarthy's largest to date, has been described by the Armory's artistic director, Alex Poots, as "a true Gesamtkunstwerk," though visitors won't need to be familiar with the Wagnerian term for total art work in order to enjoy it. A strong stomach and an open mind, as well a misspent childhood in front of the TV, should do just fine. 

Take a look at a time-lapsed video of the show's construction, below. Find out more, and book tickets here. For a greater understanding of this great artist, please take a look at our wonderful Paul McCarthy monograph.