Paul McCarthy was born in 1945 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. He trained at the San Francisco Art Institute and University of Southern California. While attending CalArts as an unregistered student, McCarthy came into contact with Allan Kaprow, and began to concentrate on video and performance. His first works were based on themes that would become characteristic of his work: claustrophobia, repetition, anxiety. His art demonstrates a cutting critique of the dominant value system in the Western world: McCarthy combines popular culture with Freudian symbolism associated with sex and food; he also explores dementia and childhood trauma in works that unsettle the viewer in a way that verges on being disturbing. His performances are loaded with fetishism; the sets of his actions are like fields of battle. His installations convey a violent imagination with a transgressive dimension, filled with mutilated bodies.
Exhibitions dedicated to McCarthy’s work include those held at Monnaie de Paris, Paris (2014), Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan (2010), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2008), Tate Modern, London (2003). His works were shown at Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi in the exhibitions “In Praise of Doubt” (2011-13), “Mapping the Studio” (2009-11), “Una selezione Post-pop” (2006-7) and “Where are We Going?” (2006).