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 He moved to New York City where he became famous in the downtown area for his odd manners and outdated formalwear, such as detachable collars, cummerbunds, and top hats.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

Montague Glover

The Photography of Montague Glover

Born in May of 1898 in Leamington Spa, a spa town known for its medicinal waters, Montague Charles Glover was a British freelance architect and private photographer. He is best known for his photographs depicting homosexual life in London during the early and mid-twentieth century when homosexuality was illegal. The majority of his oeuvre, shot during a period of increasing persecutions against homosexuals, documented members of the military forces and the working class, whose social class divisions are depicted through their dress.

The youngest of five siblings and the only male child, Montague Glover entered the British Army in 1916 for service in the first World War. He was a member of the Artist Rifles Regiment, a regiment of the Territorial Force which saw active service during the war. Glover was promoted to Second Lieutenant in 1917 and was awarded the Military Cross for Bravery in 1918.

Glover is notable for his photographs depicting the partnership with his long-time lover, Ralph Edward Hall, who was born in December of 1913 in Bermondsey, a district in the South End of London. Hall was one of nine children from a poor working-class family whose father worked as a wharf laborer. After meeting his lover in 1930, Glover employed him as his manservant, most likely to provide a social alibi for their residing together. Their relationship lasted for more than fifty years and survived Hall’s four-year service in the Royal Air Force during the second World War. Hall, absolutely devoted to Glover, sent during his years of military service hundreds of love letters to his partner.

Glover’s photographs of his domestic life with Hall are a rare documented example of a long-term relationship before the passage of the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967. Given royal assent in July of 1967 after intense debate in the House of Commons, this act essentially legalized homosexual acts in England and Wales, on the condition that they were consensual, in private and between two men who had attained the age of twenty-one. The Sexual Offenses Act of 1967 did not, however, apply to the Merchant Navy or the Armed Forces, nor to Northern Ireland or Scotland.

The Sexual Offenses Act did not condone homosexuality but argued that it was not within the responsibility of the criminal law to penalize homosexual men, who already were the object of derision and ridicule. One particular important consequence of the law was the increased freedom of assembly for gay rights groups which led to an increase in gay rights activism during the 1970s. However, as the terms of the law were within strict guidelines, activities judged as gross indecency were still prosecuted in the decade that followed its passage.

Change began when the law was extended to Scotland in February of 1981 and, as a result of an European Court of Human Rights case, extended to Northern Ireland in 1982. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 lowered the age of consent for homosexual males to eighteen; it also extended the definition of rape to include male rape which had been prosecuted as buggery. In 2000, the Sexual Offenses Act of 2000 passed and equalized the age of consent to sixteen for both homosexual and heterosexual behaviors through the entire United Kingdom.

The Sexual Offenses Act of 2003, through compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, omitted the privacy requirements in England and Wales law relating to same-sex male sexual activity, thus permitting a third party to be present. It also overhauled the way sexual offenses were dealt with by the police and courts, as it replaced previous provisions in both the 1967 Act and the original 1956 Criminal Law Act. Gross indecency and buggery were repealed from statutory law; as a result, the vast majority of the Sexual Offense Act of 1967 was repealed.

Montague Glover and Ralph Hall spent most of the latter years at “Little Windovers”, Glover’s country house in the village of Balsall Heath, a area of Birmingham and home of the Moseley School of Art. Glover’s eldest sister, Ellen, lived with them until her death in 1954 at the age of seventy-two. In his later years, Glover was described by their friends as a reserved, charming man, while Hall was known to be an outgoing, cheerful man with a distinctive cockney accent.

Montague Glover died at the age of eighty-five in 1983; he left Ralph Hall as his sole heir. After suffering a gradual decline in health, Ralph Hall died four years later at the age of seventy-four. Hall’s next of kin put their country house and Glover’s possessions up for auction. Included in the auction was a box which contained Glover’s wartime negatives from the first World War, journals, Glover’s many letters from his lovers during the decades, and the preserved collection of love letters that Hall had sent to Glover during the second World War. Many elements of Glover’s effects are contained in James Gardiner’s 1992 book, “A Class Apart: The Private Pictures of Montague Glover”.

Note: A collection of Ralph Hall’s war service love letters to Montague Glover, excerpted from Rictor Norton’s “My Dear Boy: Gay Love Letters Through the Centuries”, can be found at the Gay History and Literature site located at: https://rictornorton.co.uk/hall.htm

Top Insert Photo: Photographer Unknown, “Montague Glover”, 1916-1918, Territorial Force of the British Army

Second Insert Image: Montague Glover, Model Unknown, The Young Valet Series, Date Unknown

Third Insert Image: Montague Glover, “Three Boys at Victoria Park, East End, London”, circa 1930s

Bottom Insert Image: Montague Glover, “ Ralph Edward Hall”, Date Unknown

Ted Shawn and Company

Ted Shawn and Company at Greek Theatre Pageant, 1918, New York Public Library Collection

“Know thyself deathless and able to know all things, all arts, sciences, the way of every life. Become higher than the highest height and lower than the lowest depth. Amass in thyself all senses of animals, fire, water, dryness and moistness. Think of thyself in all places at the same time, earth, sea, sky, not yet born, in the womb, young, old, dead, and in the after death state.”
Muata Ashby, Ancient Egyptian Proverbs 

Judge Magazine

H. A. Petersen, “The Flying Liner”, Date Unknown, Illustration from the Judge Magazine

The “Judge” was a weekly satirical magazine published in the United States from 1881 to 1947. I was launched by artists who had seceded from its rival magazine “Puck”. The founders were cartoonist James Albert Wales, dime novels publisher Frank Tousey and author George H. Jessop.

This illustration shows the optimism at the time that science and innovation can overcome the forces of nature that affect man. Here a modern ship, the Aerotania, is given the ability through the wonders of scientific advancement to jump over icebergs, one of the deadly hazards to shipping.

Odessa

Artist Unknown, “Odessa”, 1930s Vintage Poster

This vintage 1930s travel poster was designed to encourage tourism to the USSR before the Second World War and the ensuing Cold War, which essentially closed off the Soviet Union to westerners.. Advertising flights and train routes through the Soviet Union, they were published by Joseph Stalin’s Intourist Company, founded in 1929.

Murders in the Zoo

Advertising Poster for “Murders in the Zoo”, 1933, Directed by A. Edward Sutherland, Paramount Pictures

“Roars, shrieks, and cackling of the wild animals on the screen at the Paramount yesterday were echoed to an amazing degree by the audience, at times driven to a mild state of hysteria by scenes in ‘Murders in the Zoo’.”         – John Scott, “’Murders in Zoo’ Opens on Screen”, Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1933

Battle in the Sky

Artist Unknown, “Severe Battle in the Sky”, The Illustration of the Great European War, Plate 110, Shobido and Company, Tokyo, Japan

The Shobido and Company, a Tokyo printing firm, produced many series of illustrations of World War I battles and maps. Each series was done by a different Japanese artist, and were presented in sets of eight lithographs. These were printed from 1914 through 1918.

Kellar the Magician

Keller the Magician Poster, “Levitation”, 1900-1909

Harry Kellar was an American magician, a predecessor of Harry Houdini and a successor of Robert Heller and Isaiah Hughes, under whom he apprenticed. Referred to as the “Dean of American Magicians”, he is shown here performing one his most memorable stage illusions, the “Levitation of Princess Karnac”.

Cigarette Cards: The Parisian

The “Parisian”, 1888, Commercial Color  Lithograph,  Issued by Allen and Ginter Cigarettes, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This trade card was from the “World’s Smokers” series (N33) issued in 1888 in a set of fifty cards to promote the Allen and Ginter brand cigarettes; the company was located in Richmond, Virgian. Printer’s samples were included in the set, as well. The printer’s sample cards are on a thinner card stock without printed text.

Each card in the series measures 2.75 x 1.5 inches. One card was packed in each box of ten cigarettes.

Calendar

A Year: Day to Day Men: 9th of August, Solar Year 2018

Sleep Position Number Eight

On August 9, 1930, Betty Boop makes her first appearance in film.

Betty Boop made her first appearance in the cartoon “Dizzy Dishes”, the seventh installment in producer Max Fleischer’s Talkartoon series. Although Clara Bow is often given as being the model for Boop, she actually began as a caricature of singer Helen Kane, who in turn gained fame by imitating the style of black singer Baby Esther Jones. Betty Boop appeared as a supporting character in ten cartoons as a flapper girl with more heart than brains. Betty Boop’s voice was first performed by Margie Hines; but the voice most known was done by Mae Questel who voiced Betty from 1931 until 1938.

Betty Boop is regarded as one of the first and most famous sex symbols on the animated screen; she is a symbol of the depression era, and a reminder of the more carefree days of the Jazz age flappers. Her popularity was drawn largely from adult audiences, and the cartoons, while seemingly surreal, contained many sexual and psychological elements, particularly in the 1932 Talkartoon “Minnie the Moocher”, featuring Cab Calloway and his orchestra.

Betty Boop was unique among female cartoon characters because she represented a sexual woman. Many other female cartoons were merely clones of their male co-stars, with alterations in costume, the addition of eyelashes, and a female voice. Betty Boop wore short dresses, high heels, a garter, and her breasts were highlighted with a low, contoured bodice that showed cleavage.

Betty Boop’s best appearances are considered to be in her 1930 -1933 years due to her “Jazz Baby” character and innocent sexuality, which was aimed at adults. However, the content of her films was affected by the National Legion of Decency and the Production Code of 1934. This production code imposed guidelines on the Motion Picture Industry and placed specific restrictions on the content films could reference with sexual innuendos, thus greatly affecting the Betty Boop cartoons. Joseph Breen, the new head film censor, ordered the removal of the suggestive introduction which had started the cartoons because Betty Boop’s winks and shaking hips were deemed “suggestive of immorality”.

While these “restricted” cartoons were tame compared to Betty Boop’s earlier appearances, their self-conscious wholesomeness was aimed at a more juvenile audience, which contributed to the decline of the series. Much of the decline was due to the lessening of Betty’s role in favor of her less suggestive cartoon co-stars. The last Betty Boop cartoons were released in 1939, with Betty making a total of 110 cartoon appearances in her early career.

Eadweard Muybridge

Gif made from Eadweard Muybridge’s “Animal Locomotion” Series, 1887, Plate 166

This series of still photographs was of a nude man jumping over a man’s back. The original vintage collotype measured 20 x 24 inches.

One of Muybridge’s main working methods was to rig a series of large cameras in a line to shoot images automatically as the subjects passed. Viewed in a Zoopraxiscope machine, his images laid the foundation for motion pictures and contemporary cinematography.