McDermott & McGough

McDermott & McGough consists of visual artists David McDermott and Peter McGough (born 1952 and 1958 in Hollywood, CA and Syracuse, NY respectively). McDermott & McGough are contemporary artists known for their work in painting, photography, sculpture and film. They currently split their time between Dublin and New York City.[1][2]

McDermott & McGough. Portrait of the Artists (with Top Hats), 1865. 1991. Platinum print. 14 x 11 inches.

Early lifeEdit

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.[1]

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."[3]

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.[4]

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.[5]


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.[1][6]

In 2017, the duo opened the Oscar Wilde Temple in Greenwich Village, meant to be a non-secular sacred space for LGBT people. It was in a chapel at the Church of the Village was created in partnership by Alison Gingeras and the New York LGBT Center. In an interview for FourTwoNine magazine, Peter McGough said, "The Oscar Wilde Temple is our greatest art piece ever, because it’s not about us. It’s a place where people can go who are locked out of the 1 percent of art buying. People who wanna get married will pay a fee, and that money goes to LGBT homeless youth. Those people are our children. These people are my children. They are the legacy of the Homeric, and we’re going to take care of them."[7] In October 2018, the artists opened the Oscar Wilde Temple at the gallery Studio Voltaire in London.[8]


  • Alice Campbell's Hollywood,[9] which showed at the 1991 Whitney Biennial.
  • If You Had Been The Moon,[9] which was 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,[10] which was 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.

Notable exhibitionsEdit

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.[1][11]


  1. ^ a b c d Art Knowledge News, McDermott & McGough: An Experience of Amusing Chemistry], Irish Museum of Modern Art.
  2. ^ Fitzpatrick, Jameson (16 September 2019). "This Artist Lived Like a Victorian During the 1980s. Now, He Reflects on His Own Past". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  3. ^ Revel in New York, interview with Peter McGough.
  4. ^ McDermott & McGough talk to Bob Nickas - '80s Then - Interview, Artforum, March 2003.
  5. ^ Michael McKenzie
  6. ^ Rozzo, Mark. “Past Masters.” Men’s Vogue, April 2008, 48.
  7. ^ Phillips, Owen. "Inside McDermott & McGough's Temple to Oscar Wilde".
  8. ^ Morris, Tom. "In London, a Temple Where You Can Worship at the Altar of Oscar Wilde".
  9. ^ a b c McDermott & McGough website Archived 2011-05-06 at the Wayback Machine, Motion Pictures.
  10. ^ IMDB entry.
  11. ^ McDermott & McGough at Cheim & Read, Biography.

External linksEdit