David McDermott and Peter McGough, born 1952 and 1958 respectively, both attended Syracuse University in the 1970s. After meeting in New York in the 1980s, the duo became known for their self-immersion in the Victorian era, in which they lived, dressed and made art according to the limitations of the early 1900s. Paintings, installations and photographs were fueled by this self-imposed time travel; the techniques, subjects and styles used were unique to the period. In creating work that reflected a different era and by reconstructing imagery from the time, McDermott & McGough in turn questioned chronological boundaries of art history and provoked issues of sexuality and cultural identity in an artistic output otherwise defined by its genteel appearance.
In their 2006 exhibition with Cheim & Read, titled A True Story Based on Lies, McDermott & McGough explored 1950s American suburbia, using pop imagery from post-war advertisements and comic books to explore a subtext of homoeroticism and domestic tension in otherwise banal mid-century archetypes. In their current exhibition, Because of Him, McDermott & McGough continue their investigation of twentieth-century pop culture, this time focusing on female screen icons of the 1960s-Susan Hayward, Lana Turner and Claudia Cardinale among them. As Wayne Koestenbaum notes in his catalogue essay, “M&M have shattered the mirror of their captivity within earlier historical modes…and are now stepping into Pop.”
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