Air Pressure
Paul McCarthy

Paul McCarthy (b. 4 August 1945, Salt Lake City) is regarded as one of the most important artists living today. His direct and confrontational approach has particularly influenced a younger generation of artists. Since the late 60s he has been active in various media, but it is only since the previous decade that his work has reached a broader art audience. For a number of years McCarthy has been steadily working on a series of large inflatable sculptures based on his characteristic iconography of ‘anti-symbols’ of American culture, which were developed as part of his performance art during the last 35 years. The Van Abbemuseum devoted a large exhibition to his work in 2004, and his inflatables and other pieces were shown in the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp and the SMAK in Ghent in 2007. One example of McCarthy’s idiom is the Santa Claus sculpture which achieved fame and notoriety in the Netherlands because of the controversy surrounding the bronze version of it (nicknamed Kabouter Buttplug) in Rotterdam. Less known in the Netherlands, however, is the fact that this sculpture has also been immortalised in a 25 metre tall, inflatable version: a rose-red Santa Claus gently swaying to and fro in the wind high above the trees. This ‘Santa Claus with Plug’ (2007) is one of the works that will be shown in Air Pressure.

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