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Paul McCarthy

American artist born in Salt Lake City UT, 1945. Lives and works in Los Angeles. He studied at San Francisco Art Institute (1969) and University of Utah, Salt Lake City (1966-68) American sculptor, performance artist and video artist.

McCarthy first developed a mode of violent performance painting, before he emerged as a performance artist in the early 1970s with a series of now notorious works. Interested in the parallels between American mass culture's pervasive infantilism and contemporary society's means of civilising young children, through toys and educational TV shows, he attempted to blur all the boundaries between childhood innocence and adult knowledge and sexuality. In the 1980s McCarthy began to concentrate on found object sculpture, exhibiting many of the props used in his performances and making kinetic sculptures.

He gave up live performances in 1984 but continued to produce performances on video. In the 1990s he produced more realistic mannequin-like figures which continued to explore taboos surrounding sexuality and the nuclear family. During this period McCarthy also began to make a series of static figurative sculptures reminiscent of theme park figures, mascots and consumer architecture.

His work has been shown in recent major exhibitions at CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2009); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2008); Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent (2007); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2006); and Haus der Kunst, Munich (2005), among others. He has participated in many international events, including the Berlin Biennial (2006); SITE Santa Fe (2004); Whitney Biennial (1995, 1997, 2004); and the Venice Biennale (1993, 1999, 2001).