September 9, 2014, Austin, Texas — The Contemporary Austin announces that it has recently installed artist Paul McCarthy’s White Snow #3 (2012) in the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria. A long-term loan courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth, the bronze sculpture is now on view in the Sunken Garden at Laguna Gloria. White Snow #3 joins the museum’s recent acquisition of artist Ursula von Rydingsvard’s Luna (2007) and a robust program of rotating temporary installations at the site, including Do Ho Suh’s reconfiguration of his celebrated kinetic sculpture Net-Work (2010), to be installed as part of the museum’s multi-site exhibition Do Ho Suh opening September 20, 2014.
“I am thrilled that we are able to bring works of this currency and prestige to the Austin community,” said Louis Grachos, Ernest and Sarah Butler Executive Director of The Contemporary Austin. “Since the transformative grant we received from the Marcus Foundation in 2013 to establish the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria, we are finding ourselves in a better position than ever to partner with artists such as Paul McCarthy and internationally respected galleries such as Hauser & Wirth.”
For more than forty years, Paul McCarthy has been upending the art world with films, sculptures, installations, and performances that punch metaphorical holes in the sanctity of fairy tales, myths, and beloved icons of Americana. Without apology, McCarthy’s practice mines popular culture for characters targeted for satire: children’s storybook figures and Disney characters turn naughty and eroticized, engaging in fantasies that eschew happy endings for lewd, satirical, sometimes disturbing, and often hilarious scenarios.
White Snow #3 belongs to McCarthy’s ongoing exploration of the well-known nineteenth-century German folk tale Snow White (Schneewittchen), and, in particular, the sugar-coated appropriation of this dark Brothers Grimm tale by the Walt Disney Company. Beginning with a series of drawings in 2009, McCarthy has continued to develop this theme, which, as with much of his previous work, the artist conflates and perverts into amalgamations that blatantly condemn the American consumerist entertainment economy. McCarthy’s exploitation of the narrative and characters from Snow White has included a large body of bronze and walnut wood sculptures and, most recently, the dizzyingly expansive exhibition WS, an immersive, outrageous, and X-rated mise-en-scène of provocation and pop culture satire exhibited at New York City’s Park Avenue Armory.
At Laguna Gloria, McCarthy’s Snow White—here, her name inverted to White Snow—is depicted as a caricature with bulbous cheeks, black instead of white, enticing visitors to join her as she rises out of a pile of scat from within the sculpture park’s idyllic Sunken Garden. To create White Snow #3, the artist applied a multi-stage process, first sculpting the figure conventionally, and then distorting the forms through varying degrees of digital manipulation, duplication, and fusion of multiple versions. The result is a cartoonishly abstracted composition that skewers the manner in which viewers encounter and regard this otherwise familiarly benign character.
“White Snow #3 challenges our visitors to reconsider preconceived notions about beauty, art, and American pop culture and will add to the rich and dynamic contemporary art scene taking shape in Austin,” said Heather Pesanti, Senior Curator at The Contemporary Austin. “Poking her visage out of a blissfully peaceful garden at Laguna Gloria, this deceptively sweet lady is McCarthy’s brilliant grotesque, done to perfection, equally attracting and repelling those who encounter her. I smile every time I come upon this work.”
Paul McCarthy (American, born 1945 in Salt Lake City, UT) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. The artist received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1969 and an MFA from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, in 1972. Ascending into the art world in Los Angeles in the early 1970s, McCarthy was part of an essential group of divergent artists teaching and working in the city, some of whom, like McCarthy himself, made messy, scatological, and performance-based works that challenged the status quo. Formally trained as a painter, McCarthy taught performance, video, installation, and performance art history at the University of California, Los Angeles, from 1984 to 2003 and currently works primarily in sculpture and video.
McCarthy has exhibited nationally and internationally, with recent solo exhibitions including WS, Park Avenue Armory, New York City (2013); Life Cast, Sculptures, and Rebel Dabble Babble, Hauser & Wirth, New York City (2013); Paul McCarthy. The Box, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2012); Paul McCarthy, Nine Dwarves, Kukje Gallery, Seoul (2012); Pig Island, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan (2010); White Snow, Hauser & Wirth, New York City (2009); Paul McCarthy—Air Pressure, De Uithof, Utrecht, Netherlands (2009); and Central Symmetrical Rotation Movement—Three Installations, Two Films, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City (2008).
The artist has also exhibited in numerous international art events, including the Venice Biennale (1993, 1999, 2001, and 2013), the Berlin Biennale (2006), SITE Santa Fe (2004), and the Whitney Biennial (1995, 1997, and 2004). McCarthy’s work can be found in permanent museum collections including the Guggenheim Museum, New York City; the Museum of Modern Art, New York City; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, among others.
THE CONTEMPORARY AUSTIN
The Contemporary Austin reflects the spectrum of contemporary art through exhibitions, commissions, education, and the collection. The museum consists of two primary locations, the Jones Center in downtown Austin at 700 Congress Avenue, and Laguna Gloria, a twelve-acre site on Lake Austin at 3809 W. 35th Street, which is home to the Driscoll Villa, the Art School, and the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria.
BETTY AND EDWARD MARCUS SCULPTURE PARK AT LAGUNA GLORIA
In 2013, The Contemporary Austin was awarded a $9 million grant by the Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation to help create an unparalleled arts destination at Laguna Gloria, with the majority of the funds committed to commissioning and acquiring sculpture and permanent outdoor installations by some of today’s leading artists.
Already well-known for its historic significance, natural surroundings, and the Art School, Laguna Gloria now continues to grow into an exceptional art-in-nature experience with exhibitions, commissions, and vibrant community engagement through public programming and educational initiatives. In April 2014, after a year-long international search, the museum announced the selection of landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand to design a new master plan for the Laguna Gloria site. Local Austin collaborators including Urban Design Group and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will ensure that this precious reserve of natural beauty in the heart of the city will become even more resilient, diverse, and welcoming for art and nature lovers alike.
IMAGE: Paul McCarthy, White Snow #3, 2012. Bronze. 98 x 77 x 74 inches. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photograph by Melissa Christy.
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