About the Exhibition
Public Art Fund, in collaboration with the Whitney Museum, presents installations by Paul McCarthy, Liz Craft, Olav Westphalen, David Altmejd, assume vivid astro focus, David Muller and Yayoi Kusama for the 2004 Biennial Exhibition. Building upon the outdoor presentation of Biennial works in 2002, this show includes artists' site-specific reactions to Central Park as well as several sculptural projects that were conceived independently of location. For the first time, the exhibition includes a weekend event of openings and participatory artists' projects in the park.
Daddies Bighead by Paul McCarthy (b.1945, Salt Lake City, UT), sited at Lasker Rink in the northern end of the park, is a fifty-foot-tall pink inflatable sculpture. Sitting atop a slender, very vertical body, the oversized head is visible from 110th Street and elsewhere within the park. Daddies Bighead is the sculptural result of an ongoing series of mixed-media works that date back to 1983, when McCarthy incorporated an actual bottle of the British condiment Daddies Ketchup into a performance. The bottle, which bears the face of a man that McCarthy has called "the quintessential 1950s dad," resurfaced in McCarthy's work in 2001 as a multi-story inflatable sculpture. Since then, McCarthy has reworked and abstracted the form, ultimately creating this new inflatable, which bears only the slightest resemblance to its predecessors. Daddies Bighead was first exhibited outside the Tate Modern in London in 2003.
Over the past three decades, McCarthy has plumbed conceptual art, popular culture, and the human psyche to create a highly personalized and provocative body of work. MJBH is one of a series of recent works McCarthy has made based on artist Jeff Koons’s famous sculpture, Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988), which was itself a representation of a publicity photograph of the superstar. Dispensing with the rococo delicacy of Koons’s oversized ceramic figurine, McCarthy’s sculpture is an abstracted representation of Michael Jackson sitting with his pet monkey. Its title, an abbreviation of “Michael Jackson Big Head,” describes both the subject and McCarthy’s characteristic figurative exaggeration. With cartoonish feet, large heads with inscrutable features, and relatively small bodies, the two figures merge into one tangled multi-limbed form. Made in 2002, just before the recent avalanche of press coverage on the legendary pop star, McCarthy’s sculpture considers the nature of celebrity, re-imagining the familiar image of Jackson and his sidekick in monumental, grotesquely unfamiliar form.