Will these butt plug wielding Santa chocolates appreciate? I wonder…
via NYTimes, Art in Review, 12/7/07:
630 Greenwich Street, West Village
Through Dec. 24
By HOLLAND COTTER
The Los Angeles artist Paul McCarthy is not a sentimentalist. In performances in the 1990s he turned Santa Claus into a filthy old man, nose running and face bloodied, as he smeared his white-trimmed red costume with food and various fluids. Christmas wasn’t a holiday; it was a psychotic episode. The spirit of giving was just a nice term for compulsive acting out.
A decade later Mr. McCarthy, like everyone else in the art world, has appeared to put childish rebelliousness aside, cleaned up his act and gone into business. He used to make a mess; now he’s making product, specifically a line of expensive chocolate Santa Clauses for the holiday season under the name Peter Paul Chocolates LLC.
To this end, he has temporarily transformed his gallery, Maccarone, into a factory outlet, which wasn’t so easy to do; the plumbing and electrical systems had to be overhauled to meet city codes before kitchen hardware could be brought in. Then, because no one really knew the confectionary ropes, Peter P. Greweling of the Culinary Institute of America was enlisted to supervise the whole affair.
The results are worth the hassle. The figures of Santa carrying a Christmas tree — 10 inches high and made of top-of-the-line semisweet Guittard chocolate — are being smoothly turned out in gift wrapping at a rate of 1,000 a day. Cost: $100 a figure, not including a shipping and handling fee. The retail office is open and taking orders on the gallery premises seven days a week. (The work is also available on the Web at peterpaulchocolates.com.) And even if you don’t want to buy, you can watch the fully staffed factory, enclosed in glass, in operation.
It’s all so great: art as the cottage-industry enterprise everybody wants it to be, turning out a line of cute cash-and-carry luxury objects, consumerist totems for the holiday shopping countdown. Of course none of this would bear the McCarthy stamp unless there were some spoiler element. In this case the tree the Santa carries is modeled on a commercial sex toy. You may not see this at first, but once you do, you keep seeing it.
But that’s great art for you: It may give you a sugar high, but it has dirty little secrets.