‘McDermott & McGough’ at Keyes Art

Peter McGough, "A Mind Intoxicated with Love,” 1967/ 2012. Gouache and silkscreen on paper 25.1/2" x 22.1/4”. Photo courtesy Keyes Gallery.

On Friday, September 10, from 6 to 8 p.m., Keyes Art in Sag Harbor hosts a reception for “McDermott & McGough Works on Paper, 2007-2012,” a new show created by Peter McGough.

McDermott & and McGough are best known for using alternative historical processes in their photography, including the techniques of cyanotype, gum bichromate, salt, tri color carbo, platinum and palladium. Among the subjects they approach are popular art and culture, religion, medicine, advertising, time, fashion and sexual behavior.

David McDermott was born in 1952 in Hollywood, California. He studied at Syracuse University, New York from 1970 to 1974. Peter McGough was born in 1958 in Syracuse, and studied at the same university in 1976. Their paths never crossed until they both moved to New York City some years later and started their artistic collaboration in 1980. They have since become well known for their way of blending art and daily life. Their photography involves appropriating images and objects from the late 19th century to the mid 20th century, and they project an image of themselves as gentlemen, posing as erudite, impertinent characters. In this way they have chosen to immerse themselves in the period of the Victorian era at the close of the 19th century to the style of the 1930s.

Peter McGough “Loves to be Loved” 1967/ 2012. Inkjet and gouache on paper, 30” x 22 ¼”. Courtesy Keyes Gallery.

During the 1980s, 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.”

Like their lifestyle, their photographs and paintings betoken a flat refusal to embrace the historical present. This obsession with the past is reflected in the subjects and styles they bring back to life, and in the precise fictional dates they give to their works. The personal dimension of their work makes it into a deliberately provocative and controversial contemporary artistic performance dealing with political and sociological issues.

McDermott & McGough’s work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions at galleries and museums around the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Centre Pompidou, Kunsthalle Wien, Manezh Moscow and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Previous exhibitions also include the Whitney Biennial, New York, in 1987, 1991 and 1995. McDermott & McGough mounted a mid-career retrospective at the Provincial Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Oostende, Belgium.

Keyes Art is at 45 Main Street, Sag Harbor, adjacent to The American Hotel. Visit juliekeyesart.com for details.