press release

Fondazione Nicola Trussardi is proud to present Pig Island, the first major solo show in an Italian institution by Paul McCarthy. The foundation has invited the legendary American artist to premiere his monumental piece - along with a wide selection of works from 1970 to 2010 – at Palazzo Citterio. The Palazzo is one of the most unusual places in the city of Milan: it has been closed for over 25 years and now reopens thanks to the collaboration of Fondazione Nicola Trussardi and Soprintendenza per i Beni Architettonici e per il Paesaggio di Milano.

McCarthy’s videos, performances, installations and sculptures transport visitors to a universe that combines Hollywood glamour with the dark side of the American dream. 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.

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, making its world debut at Palazzo Citterio. This giant sculpture 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. A contemporary Merzbau, Pig Island is a work-in-progress that Paul McCarthy has been developing for over seven years and can be read as a titanic self-portrait of the artist.

The piece—accompanied by many others among which the historical Ketchup Sandwich (1970) and Chair With Butt Plug (1978), the brand new Paula Jones (2010), a selection of films realized with Damon McCarthy, and the monumental Static (Pink) (2004-2009)—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: the exhibition Pig Island combines Paul McCarthy’s hypertrophic, Rabelaisian works with the rawness of a gigantic, endless work-in-progress.

With Pig Island, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi continues to produce works by today’s most interesting artists for the forgotten monuments of the City of Milan. Since 2003 the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi has organized exhibitions with, among others: Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Darren Almond, Maurizio Cattelan, John Bock, Urs Fischer, Anri Sala, Paola Pivi, Martin Creed, Pawel Althamer, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, and Tino Sehgal, and Tacita Dean. Fondazione Nicola Trussardi has collected its projects in What Good Is The Moon? a 368 pages book, available in bookstores worldwide, which presents brand-new articles, behind-the-scenes information, and texts as well as over 450 photographs and illustrations. In this occasion, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi is also launching its new website at

Pig Island, organized by Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, is Paul McCarthy’s first solo show with an Italian institution. Special thanks go to Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali - Soprintendenza per i Beni Architettonici e per il Paesaggio di Milano. The exhibition is realized under the patronage of City of Milan’s Department of Culture and Region Lombardia. Thanks to Open Care, Milano.

Curated by: Massimiliano Gioni, Artistic Director, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi

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Pig Island
Paul McCarthy
Kurator: Massimiliano Gioni