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."
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.
For a time, McDermott worked for the writer/artist Michael McKenzie as an MC on a bus that went to his performance club EXILE, singing songs and telling jokes in the manner of vaudeville.Found, 1928
Filmed with a silent crank moving camera in and about Dublin, including the gardens of The Irish Museum of Modern Art.Alice Campbell's Hollywood
This film showed at the 1991 Whitney Biennial.If You Had Been The Moon
Set in a 1930s Manhattan skyscraper, the story revolves around two young men who meet while filming a screen test. The main character becomes enamored by the other actor and in his hopeless desire and longing for him, puts his feelings on paper.Mean to Me
Set during the Great Depression in a Manhattan skyscraper, a young woman is surprised by her lover when he tells her of his intention to end their relationship so that he can marry another. In the heat of an argument, she knocks him unconscious, extorts money from him, and in her anger and desperation, forces a tragic outcome. The cast includes Agyness Deyn and Linus Roache.
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.