The Most Important Artists of 2013 (So Far)

5. Paul McCarthy

Exhibitions: "Sculptures" at Hauser & Wirth New York, 18th Street (May 10 - June 1, 2013), "Sisters" at Hauser & Wirth (May 10 - June 1, 2013), Hudson River Pier, West Chelsea, "Life Cast" at Hauser & Wirth New York, 69th Street (May 10 - July 26, 2013), "Paul McCarthy and Damon McCarthy: Rebel Dabble Babble" at Hauser & Wirth New York, 18th Street (June 20 – July 26, 2013), "Paul McCarthy: WS" at the Park Avenue Armory (June 19 - August 4)

The past few months have been huge for Paul McCarthy, to the point where many assume he's a new artist having his first big moment. The fact is, McCarthy has been around for a while, but it seems that his work is hitting a new nerve. He has had multiple recent (and current) exhibitions at Hauser & Wirth, where he's shown fake bodies that appear real ("life casts"), a house built to resemble his childhood home, and pornographic videos and photographs (some featuring James Franco), which are all a part of his commentary on humiliation, emotional dependency, the film industry, and memory.

His version of Jeff Koons' balloon dog at Frieze New York was a hit on Instagram, and his latest project, "Paul McCarthy: WS" at the Park Avenue Armory is the venue's second-most attended show of all time. In short, McCarthy is having a long overdue moment, but at the same time, his work seems more relevant now than ever. If you have ever felt disgusted with humanity, or your own humanity, then discovering McCarthy's work is important. For the rest of us, it's a reminder that art without boundaries, even the kind that makes us nauseous, remains powerful, and that shows involving food orgies can be popular (read: the second-most attended exhibition at the Park Avenue Armory, to date), too. -Cedar Pasori

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