Los Angeles

Paul McCarthy, Performance Drawing Notes, 1975, ink on paper, 24 × 19".

Paul McCarthy, Performance Drawing Notes, 1975, ink on paper, 24 × 19".

Paul McCarthy

Hammer Museum

In the 1960s and ’70s, art in America was radicalized—mostly by women, many hailing from the West Coast—to skewer normative constructs of gender; sexuality; the family as a social unit; and the home as a site of control, a microcosm of the authoritarian state. A particularly anarchic strain of feminist art production, by turns indicting and emancipatory, was a crucial influence on Paul McCarthy’s practice. Salient in this regard are the performances of Linda Montano, Barbara T. Smith, and, in particular, the artists involved in the Womanhouse project, which was mounted in a residential home in Hollywood in 1972. In his performance and video work, McCarthy, too, has been drawn to those domestic settings in which we are assigned our identities and has consistently sought to upend our prefabricated roles through methods of travesty, burlesque buffoonery, and over-the-top sexual caricature.

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