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Rarely and never before seen works on paper by Paul McCarthy on view at the Renaissance Society
Dwarf House, 2009. Pencil and collage on paper, 80 x 97”. Collection of Rena Conti.


CHICAGO, IL.- The Renaissance Society presents over 75 rarely and never before seen works on paper from Paul McCarthy’s hundreds of White Snow drawings, produced between 2008 and 2015. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Chicago and is part of the Renaissance Society’s Centennial program celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Known widely for his prolific output of video, sculpture, performance, and installation, Paul McCarthy also works extensively in two dimensions. The ongoing series White Snow reveals the artist’s deft draftsmanship and layered, gestural approach to drawing. Co-curated by Solveig vsteb and Susanne Ghez, the current and former Executive Directors of the Renaissance Society, respectively, this presentation offers an opportunity to consider a significant area of this major artist’s practice.

Sex and mythology, bodies and violence, death and humor—these works are at once familiar and repulsive. With his characteristic irreverent wit, McCarthy melds the iconic 1937 Walt Disney depiction of Snow White with the darker forces of the fairy tale’s earlier incarnations. The selection here features figures in various stages of erotic play, architectural renderings, and textual annotation, ranging in size from small sketches to large collages. Also included are preparatory works for McCarthy’s major installation, WS, at the Park Avenue Armory, New York in 2013.

McCarthy’s drawings represent the threshold between fantasy and reality, the point at which the artist’s imagination directly crosses over into the physical realm before being further developed into three-dimensional and time-based productions. Together, they represent a body of work that reflects drawing as a direct mode of expression and a space of possibility.

The exhibition is accompanied by a series of related events, including the theatrical premiere of McCarthy’s seven-hour moving image work, WS.

Paul McCarthy was born in 1945 in Salt Lake City and lives and works in Los Angeles. Solo museum exhibitions include Lala land parody paradise at Haus der Kunst, Munich and Whitechapel, London (2005); Head Shop / Shop Head at Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2006) and Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent (2007); Central Symmetrical Rotation Movement – Three Installations, Two Films at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2008); and White Snow Dwarf (Dopey # 1) at Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2011). He has participated in many international events, including the Venice Biennale (1993, 1999, 2001); the Whitney Biennial (1995, 1997, 2004); SITE Santa Fe (2004); and the Berlin Biennial (2006).






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