David McDermott and Peter McGough are best known for using alternative historical processes in their photography, particularly the 19th century techniques of cyanotype, gum bichromate, platinum and palladium. Among the subjects they approach are popular art and culture, religion, medicine, advertising, fashion and sexual behavior.
David McDermott was born in 1952 in Hollywood, California. He studied at Syracuse University from 1970 to 1974. Peter McGough was born in 1958 in Syracuse, and studied at the same university in 1976. Their paths did not cross until they both moved to New York City some years later.
From 1980 through 1995, McDermott & McGough dressed, lived, and worked as artists and "men about town", circa 1900-1928: they wore top hats and detachable collars, and converted a townhouse on Avenue C in New York City's East Village, which was lit only by candlelight, to its authentic mid-19th century ideal. "We were experimenting in time," says McDermott, "trying to build an environment and a fantasy we could live and work in."
David McDermott and Peter McGough studied at the same university in 1976. Their paths did not cross until they both moved to New York City some years later. From 1980 through 1995, McDermott & McGough dressed, lived, and worked as artists and "men about town", circa 1900-1928: they wore top hats and detachable collars, and converted a townhouse in NYC's East Village. "We were experimenting in time," says McDermott, "trying to build an environment and a fantasy we could live and work in."
McDermott & McGough emerged from the East Village art scene of the 1980s, along with such contemporaries as Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Peter Halley, and Jeff Koons. Very much in part thanks to the support of artist Julian Schnabel, McDermott & McGough were then accepted by established art galleries and dealers.
McDermott & McGough's work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions at such institutions as Cheim & Read, Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, Pat Hearn Gallery, Massimo Audiello Gallery, Galleria Gian Enzo Sperone, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Whitney Museum of American Art, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Centre Pompidou and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Previous exhibitions also include the Whitney Biennial, New York, in 1987, 1991 and 1995. In 1997, McDermott & McGough mounted a mid-career retrospective at the Provincial Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Oostende, Belgium.
McDermott & McGough: An Experience of Amusing Chemistry
Leather Bound: 224 pages
Publisher: Charta/Irish Museum of Modern Art (September 1, 2008)
Amazon: McDermott & McGough: An Experience of Amusing Chemistry
"People thought we were just Victorian queens who wanted to make little kitten paintings on pillows and be kitschy," quipped Peter McGough, one half of the collaborative duo McDermott & McGough, as he reminisced about the East Village art scene in the 1980s--where the artists met and honed their inimitable style--in a 2003 Artforum interview with Bob Nickas. The artists have since become known for their performative fusion of art and life--namely dressing like Victorian dandies 24 hours a day and embracing archaic photographic techniques such as palladium, gum, salt and cyanotype printing. They are not escapists, however, as Roberta Smith has pointed out. "The allusions to turn-of-the-century dandyism are combined with often explicit references to homoeroticism and to the artists' own sexuality. The implication is that the moral hypocrisies of the Victorian era are still in effect today." Featuring more than 120 images, this volume, released on the occasion of McDermott & McGough's retrospective exhibition at The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin examines two decades worth of the team's photographic work and includes texts by Matthew Higgs, Director of White Columns in New York, and Sean Kissane, Curator of Exhibitions at The IMMA, Dublin.
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