66 oeuvre graphique ——— We are familiar with the inflatable sculptures by Californian Paul McCarthy: turds, decapitated pigs, sex toys (preferably anal); we know the chocolate factory, the ketchup orgies, the raw sausages stuffed down the throat, the teddy bear and rabbit fornicating on a rock, even Snow White throwing up while frolicking with the seven dwarfs. We rarely, however, see the drawings that preceded these spectacular works. In Los Angeles, where the artist has lived since the early 1970s, the Hammer Museum has risen to a tricky challenge: to offer a dive into his aesthetic through his graphic work, the least exhibited and the least known, so as to provide a portrait of McCarthy like the negative of a photo, over six decades, and to present the latent matrix of the work. In this respect we are taken aback and fascinated by these 1990 diagrams, a sort of assessment of the graphic work seemingly executed in haste, where the artist schematized his past works, indicating here and there “sold”: A first attempt to put some order into what often seems an open-air unconscious. The exhibition is, as the title indicates, a stroll inside the artist’s head. Organized chronologically, however, it isn’t intended to be historical, documentary or scientific. The visitor is greeted by a self-portrait as a monkey, executed at the age of 18, which also serves as a poster and cover for the catalogue. This is the first sign of the exhibition’s ultra-biographical and perhaps hagiographic character. But this is the lot of any solo exhibition. And could it be otherwise in a city of which McCarthy has become the main representative, doyen of the art scene and tutelary figure? In the first room we prefer to the monkey self-portrait, which we could have done without, the which offer a direct plunge into the artist’s tormented psyche. These drawings, produced in San Francisco under the influence of psychotropic drugs, are marked by themes that would become recurrent: oversized, swollen genitals, a Santa Claus figure, shapeless organic forms. We then see works very rarely exhibited, like the pages cut out of vaguely erotic magazines in 1970-71, intended to serve as the script for a film ( that was Head Space « Dopwhite, WS ». 2009. Huile, fusain et collage sur papier. 244 × 203 cm. (Hauser & Wirth Collection). Oil stick, charcoal, and collage on paper Stoned Blue Drawings, (1) 1980, p. 80. High Performance, vol. 3, n°3 et n°4, automne-hiver Film of Desire)
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