Paul McCarthy’s art
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Paul McCarthy’s art turns fairy tales into messy nightmares

Paul McCarthy, a performance artist and sculptor known for tackling taboo subjects in ambitious installations that might, for example, turn fairy tales into messy nightmares, near one of his works at California College of the Arts’ Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco. McCarthy has curated an unconventional retrospective that primarily examines the artworks, ideas and impulses that shaped him. The first chapter focuses on the 1960s, when he studied art at the University of Utah and the San Francisco Art Institute. (Robert Durell/Los Angeles Times)
Paul McCarthy looks at a display of some of the artists and works that helped shape his sometimes twisted vision. (Robert Durell/Los Angeles Times)
Detail of a work by Paul McCarthy. (Robert Durell/Los Angeles Times)
Yves Klein’s “Leap Into the Void” prompted McCarthy to take his own leap. Only later did McCarthy learn that Klein’s work was a photo montage, with the people who caught Klein before he hit the ground removed from the image. (California College of the Arts)
John Heartfield’s “O Christmas Tree in German Soil, How Bent Are Thy Branches,” (1934), which influenced McCarthy, is included in the Bay Area show. (John Heartfield/California College of the Arts)
Wally Hedrick’s “Christmas Tree,” from around 1955, documented in photos, is in the exhibit. (Wally Hedrick Trust/California College of the Arts)