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This exhibition is a retrospective of the entire photographic work of the American-born artists McDermott & McGough covering two decades of their highly-original output in that medium. An Experience of Amusing Chemistry: Photographs 1990 – 1890 comprises some 120 works created using a wide range of historic photographic techniques, including the use of palladium, gum, salt and cyanotype prints. David McDermott and Peter McGough met when they were both part of the famous East Village New York art scene of the 1980s, and have since become renowned for their seamless fusion of art and life. In a revolt against the confines of chronological time, they have built their practice through appropriating imagery and objects from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They have also assiduously reconstructed their lives as Victorian gentlemen – complete with knee britches, top hats and tail coats – immersing themselves in the environment and era in which they feel most at home, and, incidentally, dating their works accordingly.

McDermott & McGough, The Last Supper 1898, 1998, palladium print, 51 x 61 cm, Courtesy of Galerie Jérôme de NoirmontMcDermott & McGough, A question of youth 1900, 1993, palladium print, 57 x 47 cm, Courtesy of Galerie Jérôme de NoirmontMcDermott & McGough, Bubble of soap formed at the extremity of a strand of straw 1884, 1990, palladium print, 35.4 x 28 cm, Courtesy of Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont


McDermott & McGough’s photographs, paintings and installations are fueled by their self-imposed time travel, and reflect the larger performance art dimension of their everyday lives. In this way they have explored art and culture, both high and low, from religion and sexual mores to the new industrial age and popular entertainment. However, they also subvert the obvious by incorporating homoerotic and art historical references, allowing the subject to expand outside of its time-capsule-like boundaries and to exist in relation to current cultural and artistic ideals.

McDermott was born in Hollywood, California, in 1952, although he spent most of his childhood in New Jersey. McGough was born in 1958 in Syracuse, New York, where he lived until moving to New York City to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1977. Coincidentally, David attended Syracuse University studying Advertising Design in the 1970s but their paths never crossed until they were both living in New York City a few years later. They have exhibited widely internationally and were nominated for the Glen Dimplex Award at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 1998.  Previous exhibitions include the Frankfurter Kunstverein in 1986 and the Whitney Biennial, New York, in 1987, 1991 and 1995. In 1997 the duo mounted a mid-career retrospective exhibition at the Provincial Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Oostende, Belgium.

The exhibition will tour to Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, from November 2008 to January 2009.

The exhibition is sponsored by De Gournay, London.


A fully-illustrated catalogue published by IMMA, with a foreword by Enrique Juncosa, Director, IMMA, and texts by Matthew Higgs, Director, White Columns, New York, and Seán Kissane, accompanies the exhibition. The catalogue is supported by Marie Donnelly.

Related Links

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A Limited Edition print by McDermott & McGough is available to buy, please follow the link to >arrow link” hspace=”0″ src=”/en/siteimages/arrow2.gif” align=”baseline” border=”0″ /><a href=IMMA Edition: McDermott & McGough

Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June. A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. There are three exhibitions to visit  Hilary Heron: A Retrospective; Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s shop, café and gardens are all open.