Paul McMahon at 321 Gallery

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Artist: Paul McMahon

Exhibition title: 44

Venue: 321 Gallery, New York, US

Date: September 11 – October 31, 2015

Photography: images copyright and courtesy of the artist and 321 Gallery, New York

321 Gallery is pleased to present 44, a solo exhibition featuring 44 works by Paul McMahon, the artist’s first solo exhibition in Brooklyn, New York. A new artist’s book featuring works on paper by McMahon and text by Anthony Haden-Guest will accompany the show.

The objects in this exhibition were created over a 44 year period, from 1971 through to the present, and include painting, sculpture, video, musical recordings, and works on paper. In the early 1970s, McMahon began organizing exhibitions, parties, and rock shows in Cambridge, MA and New York City, playing a vital role in bringing together artists in the post-Conceptual and pre-Pictures generation. During the 1970s, McMahon created a diverse body of work addressing corruption in government, the art world, and pictures themselves. In later decades, he continued producing work as live performances and video, satirizing politicians and the advertising world, often from a shamanic orientation.


Numbers are funny. For some reason I always liked the number 44 and made a playful artwork with it while in college. Later, I had other reasons for feeling it was special.

The number 108 is like that too. It is hands down the most sacred number in Hinduism, the numerical equivalent of holiness. It also appears in Buddhism, certain Native American traditions, Jainism and Jewish numerology. In India today, 108 is the number used for emergency response, the equivalent of 911 in the U.S.

On September 11  1893, a young Indian man named Vivekenanda addressed the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago and delivered a warmly received address on interfaith tolerance. Vivekenanda was sent to the west by his guru the great Ramakrishna of Calcutta, illiterate child of the fearsome Goddess Kali. I was surprised to learn that one can easily find a very clear recording of the speech that Vivekenanda delivered, online. This was apparently the first major presentation of Indian philosophy in the New World.

108 years to the day after such an event as the introduction of Eastern philosophy into the American mindfield, one might expect a great blessing to manifest. I am in the minority who believes such a thing may have happened on that sunny Tuesday morning in 2001.

As if to confirm my hunch, I later learned that Neem Karoli Baba chose the date for his own conscious death. He was famously given LSD by Tim Leary’s fellow Harvard professor Richard Alpert and remained completely unaffected after taking a double or triple dose of it. As a result of meeting Neem Karoli Baba, Alpert changed his name to Ram Dass and wrote Be Here Now, a spiritual clarion call to the Sixties generation. Some enlightened souls have the ability to choose the time when their essence will leave the body. In the case of Neem Karoli Baba, he told his students he was leaving and went into mahasamadhi (big blissout) on September 11, 1973.

It may be that something far worse by all rights should have happened on that day in 2001, but didn’t. It may also be true that something very important was carried out in a nearby dimension and appeared in ours as a sort of dumbshow. In this scenario, president number 44 may be none other than the savior reincarnated as a very patient person.


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Paul McMahon, Old 44, 1996

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Paul McMahon, Spoonbill, 1995

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Paul McMahon, Polka Dot T-Shirt, 1978

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Paul McMahon, Poster for Song of the Statues, 1988

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Paul McMahon, Poster for Three Art Shows Dec – Jan 1992-3, 1992

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Paul McMahon, Square Dot Painting: 21 Dots, 1992

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Paul McMahon, Sheraton Boston, 1972

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Paul McMahon, Male Models Pink and Black, 1974

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Paul McMahon, Magritte-ish Boston, 1972

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Paul McMahon, Male Models Drawing, 1974

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Paul McMahon, Untitled, 1976

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Paul McMahon, I’m King of the Universe and I Vote, 1998

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Paul McMahon, Untitled, 1977

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Paul McMahon, Christmas Statues, 1975

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Paul McMahon, Flamingo Fan, 1976

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Paul McMahon, Moonface, 1976

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Paul McMahon, Black and White Clock, 2014

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Paul McMahon, Doubt and Fear, 1977

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Paul McMahon, Babies by Hominy: Clown, 2012

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Paul McMahon, Polka Dot Painting:  8 Dots, 2008

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Paul McMahon, Silent Elton, 1976

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Paul McMahon, Red Triangle, 1977

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Paul McMahon, Blue Diamond, 1977

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Paul McMahon, Copier Mummy; Black Tight, 1975

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Paul McMahon, Fire Tantrum, 1976

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Paul McMahon, Pet Portraits by Paul, 1994

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Paul McMahon, Have a Nice Day, 1977, printed 1987 by Stropher & Elwood

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Paul McMahon, Untitled (Garth Brooks), 1977

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Paul McMahon, Typical Traffic Scene, 1973

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Paul McMahon, New Yorkers Prepare for the Radioactive Cloud from Three Mile Island, 1979

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Paul McMahon, Who’s Lying?, 1975

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Paul McMahon, Babies by Hominy: Nursing, 2012

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Paul McMahon, Washington Monument Blacked, and Dirty, Filthy, Sloppy, Scum, 1976

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Paul McMahon, Babies by Hominy: Blot on Head and Foot, 2012

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Paul McMahon, Copier Mummy: Purple Triangle, 1975

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Paul McMahon, Sure Handed, 1975

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Paul McMahon, Matador, 1976

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Paul McMahon, Good Girl (Bad Girl on Verso), 1977