The internationally renowned artist Paul McCarthy is one of the most influential contemporary artists of his generation. His performances, videos, sculptures and installations are known for their critique of mainstream culture, the consumer society, ridicule of authorities and subversion of beloved icons such as Pinocchio, Snow White, George W. Bush and Michael Jackson. Through humorous and often disturbing transpositions, McCarthy blurs the line between high and low culture while presenting to us the darker side of the American dream.
The over 6-metre-tall, red bronze sculpture Santa portrays the iconic Christmas character, Santa Claus. In line with McCarthy’s transposition of popular icons, the once innocent and family friendly Santa Claus is with Santa featured holding what resembles either a tree, a sex toy or a Constantin Brâncuși sculpture in his hand. Santa has been an essential part of McCarthy’s assembly of characters for more than 40 years and has evolved through various media. Amongst several variations of the Santa sculpture, a large version was commissioned for Rotterdam in the Netherlands in 2001. Due to the controversy it caused, it did not receive a permanent location before 2008. Santa in Ekebergparken is a further development of the figure and has finally received its red colour, which was McCarthy’s original vision for the sculpture.