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Pearl Blauvelt and McDermott & McGough

KS Art
73 Leonard Street, 212-219-9918
Tribeca / Downtown
May 18 - June 30, 2007
Reception: Friday, May 18, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Organized by Bob Nickas

KS ART is pleased to present a large group of drawings by the self-taught artist Pearl Blauvelt (1893-1987) alongside works on paper and paintings by the collaborative team McDermott & McGough. The pairing of artists and the selection of works was made by Bob Nickas.

Pearl Blauvelt’s drawings, discovered by chance in her former home in Northeast Pennsylvania, date from the 1940s/’50s. It’s clear that she drew what she wanted: clothes, furniture, a big house, cars, and money. For all their naiveté, there are some astounding moves: houses are transparent - clothes and the body as well - perspective is reversed, scale highly skewed. She flattens interior walls so that all are visible at the same time, as if seen from above. This is homespun cubism with x-ray vision. Done mostly on ruled notebook paper, these drawings call to mind the image of a child at her school desk, bored by the class and letting her imagination flow. Pearl Blauvelt’s style may appear childlike, but there is a crude sophistication to her composition and draftsmanship. Repetition of commercial items alternately gives rise to abstraction and suggests a folky Pop art sensibility. There is text in most of the drawings, and she often identifies every single object - each rug, each pair of stockings, and so on - a clear indication that she was copying images from mail order catalogs. This relates her work to the use appropriation that is common among outsider artists, not only referring to the everyday world in which she lived, but to the one she dreamed would be hers.

David McDermott & Peter McGough, working collaboratively since 1980, consider their art to be part of a larger time experiment, one which involves every aspect of their life. Over the past twenty-six years they have produced paintings, works on paper, and photographs in the style of various periods, and dated accordingly. A painting made in 1989 might be dated 1879. Cyanotypes from the late 1980s recall the work of F. Holland Day from the early 1900s. In a series of “time maps,” dates are interlocked as if they were the pieces of a geographic puzzle. A number of exhibitions and works have referred to specific events, such as the great San Francisco earthquake, or to the repressive persecution of the Nazi era—The Lust that Comes from Nothing (1998-2003). They have represented in their work and in their life the figure of the dandy, the flaneur, the artist who merges his art and life, and for whom humor is a means to wry social commentary. At the beginning of their career, McDermott & McGough famously insisted: “We’ve seen the future, and we’re not going.”

McDermott & McGough have exhibited widely in galleries and museums in Europe and the United States. They live and work in Dublin and New York.
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