SEGMENT: Paul McCarthy in "Transformation"

From "Art in the Twenty-First Century" Season 5 (2009)

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Release date

October 21, 2009

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“My work seems to be about tearing down and opening up conventions,” says Paul McCarthy, who bristles when asked what his responsibility is to the audience for his work. “My responsibility is to the ideas,” he explains, “that’s the difference between making art and making entertainment.” The segment begins with a series of motorized architectural works installed at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. McCarthy’s interest in performance is introduced through a series of minimal videos in which the artist uses his body as a tool. Later works show the artist performing similarly absurd tasks, only this time adopting a character and on a sound stage. “The persona usually started with a kind of mask or some sort of costume,” he says. The segment concludes in McCarthy’s Los Angeles studio where he and his assistants are shown working on a series of drawings and sculptures that include elements from Snow White, Hummel figurines, and a bust of President George W. Bush.