From May 20 to July 4, 2010, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi presents Pig Island, the first major solo show in an Italian institution by Paul McCarthy.
Fondazione Nicola Trussardi has invited the legendary American artist Paul McCarthy to conceive a project for Palazzo Citterio—one of the most unusual places in the city of Milan, located right in the city’s historical center on Via Brera, yet unknown to the public, as it has been closed for over 25 years, reopened thanks to the collaboration of Soprintendenza per i Beni Architettonici e per il Paesaggio di Milano. This exhibition will premiere the monumental masterpiece on which McCarthy has been working for over seven years: Pig Island.
Paul McCarthy, Pig Island, 2003-2010 (detail). Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirt.
Paul McCarthy is a true contemporary master who has achieved a key role in art history over his decades-long career. Combining minimalism and performance, Walt Disney and George W. Bush, McCarthy has used the human body, with all its desires and taboos, to create a unique, irreverent, and satirical language that combines Pop Art with fairy tales, the nightmares of the daily news with universal archetypes.
McCarthy’s videos, performances, installations and sculptures transport visitors to a universe that combines Hollywood glamour with the dark side of the American dream.
Pirates, clowns, Santa Claus puppets, home-made avatars, and mutant monsters populate McCarthy’s theater. Ketchup bottles, cans of food, mechanized pigs and cast body parts pop up in his exhibitions like the remnants of some bad dream. McCarthy’s shows are conceived as giant theme parks that stage raving bacchanals. Like a circus ringmaster, McCarthy constructs exhibitions in which celebrities impersonators interpret deranged parodies of movies, or in which Mickey Mouse and Snow White are caught in bestial acts of regression.
For the exhibition with Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Paul McCarthy presents one of his most complex and ambitious works, Pig Island, a giant sculpture that grew in the artist’s studio to fill over 100 square meters with a surreal anthology of the themes that have cropped up throughout his career. The installation Pig Island is a carnivalesque amusement park in which human beings behave like pigs. A treasure island in reverse, Pig Island is a sculptural shipwreck in which pirates and their heroines throw themselves with abandon into wild revels. The installation is a contemporary Raft of the Medusa: its characters can finally cast off their inhibitions and reveal their all-too-human nature. Pig Island is a work-in-progress that Paul McCarthy has been developing for over seven years, and which will make its world debut at Palazzo Citterio with Fondazione Nicola Trussardi.
Paul McCarthy, Pig Island, 2003-2010. Mixed materials. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirt.
The piece—accompanied by a selection of McCarthy’s work from 1970 to 2010—is installed in one of the few examples of contemporary architecture in Milan: still completely hidden to the public, and left in a state of disrepair, this building will be unveiled for the first time on this occasion.
The show explores an underground bunker carved out beneath the city, where one finds the archeological artifacts of a Never-Never-Land: Pig Island combines Paul McCarthy’s hypertrophic, Rabelaisian works with the rawness of a gigantic, endless work-in-progress.
Since the ’80s, Palazzo Citterio has been entirely closed to the public. The building, property of the Italian State, was originally conceived to house the extension of the Pinacoteca di Brera in a project known as Grande Brera. The Fondazione Nicola Trussardi show is a precious opportunity to discover the work of one of the greatest figures in contemporary art, presented in an extraordinary setting that has been left in its unfinished state.
With Pig Island, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi introduces the public to a new landmark space hidden away in the heart of the city; after the major solo shows by Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Darren Almond, Maurizio Cattelan, John Bock, Urs Fischer, Anri Sala, Paola Pivi, Martin Creed, Pawel Althamer, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Tino Sehgal and Tacita Dean, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi is proud to present one of the most ambitious projects it has undertaken since its foundation in 2003, when it set out to explore historic sites in Milan and infuse them with new life through the visions of contemporary art.
To help people discover all of its projects, the foundation has published the book What Good Is the Moon?, which presents brand-new articles, behind-the-scenes information, and texts by Beatrice Trussardi, Massimiliano Gioni, Daniel Birnbaum, Stefano Boeri, Tiziano Scarpa, Catherine Wood and Hans Urlich Obrist, among others, along with artist interviews and in-depth historical investigations, in 368 pages with over 450 illustrations. What Good Is the Moon? is a fundamental tool for discovering contemporary art through the projects of Fondazione Nicola Trussardi.