McDermott & McGough

McDermott & McGough, “If You Had Been the Moon”, April 2009, 10:16, Directed by Peter Mc  Gough, Starring Michael  Kavalus, Bryan Deckhart, Claybourne Elder, Christopher Le Rude, Alex Michael Stoll, and Andrew Lord

The art collective McDermott & McGough consists of the contemporary artists David McDermott and Peter McGough who are known for their work in sculpture, painting, film and photography. Their work examines such issues as religion, popular culture and art, medicine, advertising, fashion, and sexual behavior. McDermott and McGough are best known for their gay-themed paintings and the use of historical processing techniques in their photographic work, which includes film development with palladium, gum bichromate, salt, platinum, and carbon black.

Born in Hollywood, California in 1952, David McDermott studied at Syracuse University in New York from 1970 to 1974. He moved to New York City where he became famous in the downtown area for his odd manners and outdated formalwear, such as detachable collars, cummerbunds, and top hats. Born in Syracuse in 1958, Peter McGough studied at Syracuse University in 1976. He relocated to New York City where he briefly studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology. After dropping out from the Institute, McGough was employed to sell tickets at Danceteria, a famous, albeit illegal, nightclub with several locations in the city.

Peter McGough met David McDermott in a Manhattan theater at the end of the 1970s. As David kept Peter company during the early club hours before sunrise, a strong relationship developed between them  that also included an artistic alliance which would last forty years. In the 1980s, the gay couple became known in New York’s East Village art scene for their immersion in the Victorian era. McDermott and McGough questioned the ideas of nostalgia; they pursued an art form and lifestyle narrative of reorienting the past for the future. Dressed and living as early 1900s dandies with an air of erudition and impertinence, their lives and art became an exploration of time and history, as well as, a challenge to the boundaries of art history and cultural identity.

McDermott and McGough’s collaborative output was expressed through a proliferation of drawings, paintings, film and photographs, and architectural interiors. Their photographs and films, which appropriated images and objects from the late 19th century to the style of the 1930s, explored contemporary cultural issues but produced them through vintage materials and techniques. McDermott and McGough’s obsession with the past is reflected in the styles and subjects they resurrect; many of their works are titled with fictional dates that reference the latter years of the 1800s. 

The later work of McDermott and McGough was inspired by advertising motifs, Hollywood cinema, and the comic books of the 1950s and 1960s. They reinvented major works of twentieth-century photography, Pop Art icon images, and produced photo-realistic paintings of vintage film stars. During the 1980s when their work was selling well, McDermott and McGough were a major part of the downtown New York scene, where the attended clubs and mingled with Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol. They bought three properties including a 1860s French Second Empire style bank, owned horses and vintage automobiles, hosted lavish baroque parties, and bestowed expensive gifts to friends.

 In 1992, the art market began to feel the effects of the stock market crash of October 1987. Out of all the paintings McDermott and McGough had on  exhibit at the Armory Show, only one small painting sold. Their debts, which included framing costs for their exhibitions, came due; many of these debts were paid through the transfer of their existing artwork to galleries and other debtors, among whom was the Internal Revenue Service. Eventually everything the couple had was auctioned off except for a few pieces they managed to save and later shipped to the docks of Dublin, Ireland. David McDermott relocated to a small  rental house near Ballsbridge, Ireland, and in 1995 McGough reunited with him. 

McDermott and McGough started painting and soon were able to rent a small art studio in Temple Bar in downtown Dublin. Through Swiss art dealer and gallery owner Bruno Bischofberger, they received many silhouette commissions. With the assistance of the gallery’s director Andrea Caratsch, McDermott and McGough had an exhibition in 1998 entitled “The Lust That Comes from Nothing” at Paris’s Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont.

McDermott and McGough’s previous exhibitions include the Whitney Biennial, New York, in 1987, 1991 and 1995, and a mid-career retrospective at the Provincial Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Oostende, Belgium. In 2017, their work was the subject of the exhibition “I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going’ held at the Dallas Contemporary Museum in Texas. Other solo and group exhibitions include such institutions as the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Centre Pompidou in Paris, New York City’s Galleria Gian Enzo Sperone, and the Frankfurter Kunstverein in Germany. 

McDermott and McGough’s work is represented in numerous collections including the International Center of Photography in New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence; Tampa Museum of Art in Florida; Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center; and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, among others.

Notes: In 2017, David McDermott and Peter McGough opened the Oscar Wilde Temple, a non-secular sacred space for LGBTQ people in a chapel at the Church of the Village located in New York City’s Greenwich Village. It is both an art exhibition space and a place for marriages; donations go to homeless LBGTQ youth. A second location at the gallery Studio Voltaire in London was opened in October of 2018.

In 2019, Peter McGough published his memoir “I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going There” through Penquin Random House. Set in New York’s Lower East Side, the memoir chronicles his life withDavid McDermott during the 1980s and mid-1990s.

Top Insert Image: David McDermott and Peter McGough, “Portrait of the Artists, 1928, 1990”, Palladium Print on Paper, 35 x 26.5 cm, Private Collection

Second Insert Image: David McDermott and Peter McGough, “Love is Gone- So What Can Matter? 1966, 2008”, Oil on Linen, 152.4 x 122.2 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, “Joel at Lower Baldonell House, Dublin, 1910, 2003”, Palladium Print on Paper, 50.8 x 40.6 cm, Private Collection

Fourth Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, “The Annointed”, 1991, Photographers and Friends Against AIDS Exhibition, Palladium Print on Paper, 16.5 x 11.8 cm, Private Collection

Fifth Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, Title Unknown (Reading Comics), Image from the “Detroit, 1958” Series,  2007, Carbro Print, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, “Portrait of the Artist (With Top Hats) 1865”, 1991, Palladium Print on Paper, Collection of the Artists

Franz Betz

Photographer Unknown, “Franz Betz in His Role as Wotan”, 1876

Born in March of 1835 at the Rhine River city of Mainz, Germany, Franz Betz was a bass-baritone opera singer known for his performances in operas by Richard Wagner. He received his training in the city of Karlsruhe, home of the Baden State Theatre opera house. Betz made his debut, at the age of twenty-one, in 1856 at the Court Theater of Hanover in Wagner’s “Lohengrin”, part of the “Knight of the Swan”legend, but most recognizable for the”Bridal Chorus”, still played at weddings today.

Framz Betz’s successful performance in 1859 at the Berlin State Opera, singing the role of Don Carlo in Giuseppe Verdi’s “Emani”, resulted in a permanent contract with the company and his becoming one of Wagner’s most trusted singers. He sang the role of Hans Sachs in the world premier of Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nümberg” at Munich in 1868, eventually singing the role over one hundred times.

Im May of 1872, Betz was one of the four soloists in the performance of “Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony” to mark the laying of the foundation stone for the Bayreuth Festival Theater, built by Richard Wagner for the sole use of his works. At the Beyreuth Theater in 1876, Betz sang the role of Wotan in the operas “Das Rheingold” and “Die Ring des Nibelungen”.

Franz Betz continued to sing lyric and lyric-dramatic roles well into his career as a singer of Wagner’s operas. For instance, he sang, in the same season of 1863, both the role of Telramund, a heavy dramatic part, and the lyric part of Valentin in “Faust”. Betz’s voice deepened as he grew older; and in consequence, Wagner added to his operas the role of König Marke, a lyrical bass role without a low tessitura and, in the same year, the role of Wotan. Betz’s enormous repertoire ranged from the roles of Don Giovanni and Wolfram, through Pizarro and Posa, to the roles of Holländer, Amonasro, Sachs and Wotan, expanding finally to Falstaff in 1894. 

During the period from 1882 to 1890, Betz held the position of president of the German trade union for stage artists, technicians and administrative staff, the Genossenschaft Deutscher Bühren-Angelhöger. Although singing in a few London concerts in 1882 and 1889, he never sang elsewhere outside of Germany. Franz Betz died in Berlin on the 11th of August in 1900 and is buried at the Protestant Wilhelm Memorial Cemetery in the Westend district of Berlin.

Note: The photographs show Franz Betz as Wotan, bearded and with shield,  in Richard Wagner’s opera “Die Ring des Nibelungen” performed in Bayreuth. The photo card is entitled Costume Portraits of the Bayreuther Festival Thater, and was published by Joseph Albert, Munich, in 1876. 

Frederick Evans, “Aubrey Beardsley”

Frederick Evans, “Aubrey Beardsley (With Hands)”, 1893, Platinum Print and Photogravure, Wilson Center for Photography, London

Born in London in June of 1853, Frederick H. Evans was a British photographer known fo his images of architectural subjects. Before becoming a full-time photographer in 1898, he was a bookseller. While working as a clerk in London’s breweries, Aubrey Beardsley spent his lunch breaks browsing in Evan’s second-hand bookshop, developing his artistic and literary tastes from the wide variety of books.

As a result of his visits, Aubrey Beardsley became close friends with Frederick Evans, who was developing his photographic technique of monochrome printing involving a platinum process. Using his new process, Evans shot this portrait of Beardsley in 1893.

This portrait of Aubrey Beardsley was used in the editions of his early published works and has become the defining image of the artist. It became known as the ‘gargoyle portrait’, for Beardsley’s pose resembles the famous carved figure on the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. 

Born in August of 1872, Aubrey Vincent Beardsley was an English author and illustrator. His black ink drawings were influenced by Japanese woodcuts, and emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. He was a leading figure in the aesthetic movement which also included Oscar Wilde and James McNeill Whistler. Beardsley’s contribution to the development of the Art Nouveau and poster styles was significant despite his early death from tuberculosis in March of 1898, at the age of twenty-five.

Image reblogged with many thanks to a great photographic history site:

Henry Cyril Paget

John Wickens, “Henry Paget, Fifth Marquis of Anglesey”, c 1905, National Trust of England

The Marquis of Anglesey is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The title was created in 1815 for Henry Paget, Second Earl of Uxbridge, who was a hero of the Battle of Waterloo, second in command to the Duke of Wellington. Other subsidiary titles held by the Marquis are Earl of Uxbridge, Middlesex, in the Peerage of Great Britain 91784), Baron Paget, de Beaudesert, in the Peerage of England (1553), and the titles of Irish Baronet, of Pias Newydd in the County of Anglesey, and of Mount Bagenal in the County of Louth. The family seat of the Marquis is Plas Newydd at Lianddaniel Fal, Anglesey. 

Born on June 16, 1875, Henry Cyril Paget, 5th Marquis of Anglesey, styled Lord Paget until 1880, held the title of Earl of Uxbridge between 1880 and 1898. Notable for squandering his inheritance on a lavish social life, he was the eldest son of Henry Paget, the 4th Marquis, by his wife Blanche Mary Carwen Boyd. After the death of his mother in 1877, Paget went to Paris to live with the French actor Benoít-Constant Coquelin, who was rumored to be his real father. 

At the age of eight, Henry Paget was taken to live at the family seat in Plas Newydd when his father re-married to an American heiress. Paget attended Eton Collage, later receiving private tuition. He learned painting and singing in Germany and spoke fluent French, good Russian, and grammatical Welsh. Paget became commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. 

On the 20th of January, 1898, Henry Cyril Paget married his cousin Lilian Florence Chetwynd, maintaining an unconsummated marriage for six weeks at which time his cousin left. The marriage was annulled in 1900 and one year later changed to a legal separation. On the death of his father in October of 1898, Paget inherited his title and the thirty thousand acre family estates, providing an annual income of £110,000, equal to £12 million per year in 2019. Paget swiftly acquired a reputation for a lavish manner of living, spending his money on jewelry and furs, and throwing extravagant parties and theatrical performances.

Paget renamed the family’s country seat as “Anglesey Castle” and converted the family chapel into a 150 seat theater, named the Gaiety Theater. Dressed in opulent costumes, he took the lead role in productions of Shakespeare’s “Henry V” and Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband”. From 1899, most of the performances, performed before invited notable guests,  were a variety of song and dance numbers, sketches, and tableaux vivants, stationary posed scenes with actors and props. In 1901, the Gaiety Theater was open as a public entertainment venue after having been refurbished and fitted with electric stage lighting. 

During the next three years, Paget toured with his company around Britain and Europe. The company travelled with specially painted scenery and their own orchestra; many of their props were exact copies of furniture from Anglesey Castle. Each of Paget’s costumes was specially designed and made to order, either by couturiers or by the London costumiers Morris Angel. The company, which at its largest consisted of fifty performers and crew, required five trucks for the baggage and scenery. The Marquis travelled in a powerful Pullman motor car with a personal staff of four. When at Anglesey Castle, Paget kept actors in lodgings in the neighboring village of Llanfair. 

By 1904, despite his inheritance and income, Henry Paget had accumulated debts of £544,000 (£60 million in 2019):[ on June 11th he was declared bankrupt. Everything, including his jewelry and dressing gowns from Parisian shirtmaker Charvet, were sold to pay creditors. Paget ‘retired’ to France on an income of £3,000 a year,, accompanied by a manservant, first to Dinan in Brittany and finally to Monte Carlo.  On March 14, 1905 at the age of twenty-nine, Henry Cyril Paget, 5th Marquis of Anglesey, died at Monte Carlo’s Hotel Royale following a long illness of tuberculosis. His remains were returned to St. Edwen’s Church, Llanedwen, for burial. 

The title passed to Henry Paget’s cousin Charles Henry Alexander Paget,  who destroyed all the papers of the 5th Marquis and converted the Gaiety Theatre back into a chapel. It was at least in part owing to the debts left by the 5th Marquis that the family’s principal English estate at Beaudesert,  Staffordshire, had to be broken up and sold in the 1930s. The Paget family moved into the family seat Plas Newydd for their permanent residence.

Henry Cyril Paget’s outrageous and flamboyant lifestyle, his taste for cross-dressing, and the breakdown of his marriage, have led many to assume that he was gay. Lawyer and early gay rights reformer in England, Harford  Montgomery Hyde, author of “The Other Love”, viewed Paget in his 1970 writings as the most notorious aristocratic homosexual at this period. Heritage Studies professor Norena Shopland, specializing in LBGT and Welsh histories, wrote that Henry Paget should be included in the history of gender identity. However, there is no evidence for or against his having had any lovers of either sex. Upon Henry Paget’s death, the deliberate destruction of his papers by his cousin Charles Henry Paget has left the matter to speculation. 

In 2017 the actor and composer Seiriol Davies wrote and performed in his play “How to Win Against History”, a musical based on Henry Cyril Paget’s life. This award-winning show was performed at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe before going on tour in Wales and England. In 2019 the show had its Irish premiere at the Dublin Theater Festival.

Anthony Liccione: “At the Edge, You Will Always Remember Me”

Photographer Unknown, (At the Edge: The Dancers)

“At the edge you will always remember me, at the edge you will last be remembered, where sanity and insanity come together, for the time, then separates. Like leaves on October trees, that color the world, but for a moment, then leave. At the edge, where life losses its edginess, and thoughts we will become one, someday. At the edge the sun drops, the ring falls, and senses of raindrops climb upwards to the gray sky.”

-Anthony Liccione