McDermott & McGough

Biography of McDermott & McGough

McDermott & McGough comprises the artists David McDermott (b. 1952, Hollywood) and Peter McGough (b. 1958, Syracuse). The duo, who met in NYC in 1980, famously bought a 19th Century townhouse in Manhattan and transported it back in time, removing the plumbing, modern heating amenities and electricity to recreate a historically accurate Victorian home for themselves. They then spent the decade immersed in their elaborately constructed time-warp—dressing, acting and creating art as if in 1900.


McDermott & McGough’s palpable desire to return to the past rather than move towards the future is at the core of their artistic identity as much as their lifestyle. They source inspiration from great masters like Ingres as well as vintage cinema, 1950s advertisements and dated comic books. The peculiar portals to the past are rendered all the more authentic by the frequent inclusion of self-portraits. Even the mediums and techniques the duo employ are historical; time-honored printing methods such as photogravure and salt printing are central to their practice. Although they meticulously hide all physical traces of the present day in their works, the subtle subversions in the compositions poignantly explore notions of identity, gender, time and history.


In 2017, McDermott & McGough have an aptly entitled solo exhibition at Dallas Contemporary: I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going. They have exhibited previously in numerous prominent institutions, amongst them the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Centre Pompidou, the Kunsthalle Wien and the Frankfurter Kunstverein. A major mid-career retrospective of their work was held at the Provinciaal Museum voor Moderne Kunst in Belgium in 1997.

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