Irina Kulik will trace the practices of these eminent American artists who radically expanded the language of contemporary art and carried out a number of projects together.
Paul McCarthy (b. 1945) is a major contemporary artist, author of performances and installations exploring a plethora of current themes, including the limits of cultural and aesthetic possibilities. Often using ketchup, mayo, chocolate and other food products, as well as toys, puppets and mannequins as his materials, McCarthy creates explicit political statements with his works. His language is hugely naturalistic involving anthropomorphic images, which feels provocative and uncanny. More recently, the artist has been making monumental inflatable sculptures for public spaces: one of the most talked about among them became the 25-meter Tree installed on the Vendome Square in Paris in 2014. McCarthy is also author of a number of joint projects with friend Mike Kelley and other fellow artists.
Mike Kelley (1954–2012) is an iconic American artist, musician, art theorist and curator, one of the leading practitioners of his generation. Kelley’s work is closely associated with Los Angeles and Californian underground circles, as he was friends and collaborators with Paul McCarthy, Tony Oursler, John Miller and other like-minded artists. During the 1980s and 1990s, he was member of a number of bands, and in 1992 Kelley made an album cover for the acclaimed Sonic Youth album Dirty. Using a variety of artistic and everyday materials, he created installations and entire exhibition projects, collages and assemblages, graphic and sculptural series, videos and performances, which critiqued the hierarchies inherent in official and pop culture and celebrated the freedom of underground art. Mike Kelley committed suicide at the height of his career in 2012.