When Paul McCarthy Met Snow White

Published June 19, 2013

ABOVE: PAUL MCARTHY’S “WS,” COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND HAUSE & WIRTH. PHOTO BY JOSHUA WHITE

After yesterday’s opening of Paul McCarthy’s “WS” at the Park Avenue Armory, over 2000 New Yorkers will never look at the Disney films of their youth in quite the same way. An uncensored excursion into the perverted mind of the Los Angeles-based artist, the large-scale installation and video presentation depicts the traditionally chaste Snow White in a range of compromising situations. Gargantuan projections feature the princess losing her innocence to seven sexually deviant dwarves as well as McCarthy himself. At the heart of the installation grows a meticulously constructed mystical forest, engulfing a recreation of the artist’s childhood home. The spectacle is simultaneously creepy, nostalgic, fantastical, and uncomfortable. Simply put, this is not an exhibit to experience with your mother.

Whether the installation delights or offends, it is inarguably remarkable that there is a platform in Manhattan willing and capable to feature “WS.” Looking down upon the monstrous installation from the second floor balcony of the Armory’s Wade Thompson Drill Hall, the sheer scale of McCarthy’s twisted vision is remarkable.

Amidst the throngs of visitors, all of which were over the age of 17, was McCarthy himself. Visibly delighted in what he had achieved, the artist was (thankfully) clad in much more than the oversized version of himself that danced across the walls. 

“WS” IS ON SHOW AT THE PARK AVENUE ARMORY IN NEW YORK THROUGH AUGUST 4.