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McDermott & McGough

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  • McDermott & McGough

    David McDermott i Peter McGough són dos artistes que es troben als anys 80 a New York en el cercle de Julian Schnabel. Parteixen de la coexistència de totes les èpoques per establir-se al segle XIX amb vestimenta victoriana i l'us de tècniques obsoletes com la fotografia al cianotip.

    El que segueix és una entrevista a la revista Artforum dels anys 80:
    McDermott & McGough talk to Bob Nickas - '80s Then - Interview

    BOB NICKAS: If you were to make a panoramic history painting that would represent you in the '80s, what would you paint?
    PETER McGOUGH: We already made that painting, in 1985. It's the two of us, and it says NOTORIETY. And on one side there are positive minds, temples to fame, success.
    DAVID McDERMOTT: We're in tailcoats at the very top, and all the other people are trying to climb up.
    PM: We took it from an illustration in Hollywood Babylon. It has a huge eye and says PUBLIC EYE. It was about the art world.
    DM: Hubert Burda, the publishing heir, has it hanging in his cafeteria to inspire the workers.
    BN: What if I commissioned you to make a companion painting? Since your career is about looking back in time, how would you paint that scene today?
    DM: In the beginning we were peripheral in the art world. We were like decorative oddities that were allowed to be there. Julian [Schnabel] took us out of bohemia and the downtown scene and put us up with all the big artists. They didn't like us, but Julian championed us.
    PM: He supported us by buying our work, and just pushed us on people.
    DM: You'd have this whole powerhouse circle, and we would be there with Julian.
    BN: That's the image?
    DM: Yes. Picture us as little parrots on Julian's shoulders.
    PM: I wouldn't paint that.
    BN: Describe your painting.
    PM: Mine would include Schnabel, Salle, and Clemente, and then this whole younger group of artists that came in, Philip Taaffe, us, Donald Baechler. And I would paint all those older artists sitting on a big bag of money.
    DM: A big bag of money. And you know what? Coming out of their eyeballs would be more money. Right, Peter?
    BN: It's easy to look at the '80s for their excess. I love quoting Mario Diacono, who showed you early on. He once said, "People back then, they thought it was going to be this never-ending feast."
    PM: In 1989 a rich friend of mine was driving with an art dealer from Austria. They were in a convertible speeding along some beautiful coastline. They're laughing and saying, "The '80s were fabulous! Oh, weren't they great. And the '90s are going to get even better for us!" Then 1990 came, and bang! They were out of business.
    BN: I thought you were going to say the car flew off the cliff.
    PM: Well, it did for them. But you know what was interesting about the '80s? The East Village. You had all these people who saw SoHo and thought, "We can do that." They made their own little game in the East Village. There were some awful galleries, but even they sort of added to it.
    BN: That's where we all started. And a big part of the motivation was an art world that was closed off. "Okay, they won't let us in, so we'll do it ourselves." Everybody I knew came out of performing and playing in bands after punk and No Wave.
    DM: That's absolutely true. They made up their own art world. It was completely fake. There were fake critics. Fake dealers. Fake artists. The whole thing was fake. They were all pretending back then.
    "Let's play art world. They won't let us, so we'll play over here in the dirt."
    PM: Rene Ricard wrote about Fun Gallery and said that Patti Astor was the new Mary Boone. He was saying, "Don't go after these big galleries. Start your own war." That's what they did in the East Village. I tell you it was really fun. We lived on Avenue C, and they opened all these galleries, and on Sundays everybody came to look around.
    BN: I think of you back in the early East Village days onstage at the Pyramid, before you began making art. I also remember walking down Houston Street, past the big car wash--remember Carz-a-Poppin'?--and I see this old roadster with the top down, and you're in the back with a driver in front. The car looked like you had to turn a crank to start it up.
    PM: Right, 1913.
    BN: I'd never seen anything like it. You were in raccoon coats, and people were doing triple takes. You had a very particular appearance, always in period dress. I certainly never saw you at an opening in jeans.
    PM: No.
    BN: Did the art world become this larger stage on which you could perform?
    PM: We took all the money that we made in the '80s and threw it into our lives. We bought china, we bought furniture...
    DM: We put it into our time experiment. That was our art as much as our paintings were.
    PM: We had three different time machines, and the cars were part of it. Julian would come and see a bookcase with all these busts on it and he would say, "Make a painting of that." Our paintings were our ideas about homoeroticism and time travel. And then our photography became a record of the way we lived.
    DM: What was interesting about photography was that we had to change reality in order to create the pictures. With painting we could be in a fantasy world. But in order to get a photograph, we first had to put up the wallpaper, bring in the furniture ... Photography encouraged us to buy more old stuff and to get more involved in re-creating the past. It was a wonderful excuse to buy, buy, buy.