McMahon was intrigued that the rectangular photograph’s subject was the forked shape of the line of waiting cars so he drew attention to that. Pictures in newspapers are chosen for their informational content and not their opticality. So he decided to mess with the verbal information by introducing nonverbal things like color, shape and texture. From late 1973 until he moved to NYC in September 1975 he did this work*. In New York the NY Times and with it other newspapers which had appeared to be objective in Cambridge now appeared as competing viewpoints** and not the rock I counted on in some peculiar way. Also the smallness and subtlety of his pastel work made it seem invisible to gallerists and he tried briefly to adjust the work to the NY audience, coloring in ‘tombstones’ in the financial pages. Sporadically in the next decades he would do a few more works, like the Jesus and Hanuman of the 80s and African Caligula of the 90s. In common with all of his different bodies of work McMahon is comfortable with doing new works. * Most of this work was done in 1973-4 while a dorm parent at the Cambridge School in Weston, listening to Moondance by Van Morrison. Later McMahon would deliver mail to the house Van stayed at in Woodstock while recording Moondance. Dr. John, who was also on Paul’s mail route until Katrina said it best: “I was in the right place but it must have been the wrong time.”** NYT non-coverage of cable tv/Donald Manes
Through a very simple concept McMahon was able to thwart the prevailing orthodoxies of Conceptualism in a poker-faced merging of ‘information and beauty’…The idea of regressing to the most elitist and decorative of traditional techniques at a time when painting was considered ideologically tainted, and to do so on images that were supposed to have political and sociological importance was another aspect of McMahon’s natural tendency to stumble deadpan across the pieties of the period. When Douglas Huebler saw group of them during a visit to McMahon’s studio in 1975 the master Conceptualist could only muster the observation that “they look….French.” …For McMahon the point was that Conceptual art had thrown the baby out with the bathwater and that his pastels were like a ribbon tied around a bomb.
-Douglas Eklund THE PICTURES GENERATION 1974-1984 Yale University Press page 58
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER metropolitan museum 2009 PICTURES GENERATION 1974-1984 installation photo Eileen Travell
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER metropolitan museum 2009 PICTURES GENERATION 1974-1984 gaz de france 1975 1
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER 0 metropolitan museum 2009 PICTURES GENERATION 1974-1984 gaz de france 1975 2
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER 0 metropolitan museum 2009 PICTURES GENERATION 1974-1984 gaz de france E1 1974 3
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER 0 metropolitan museum 2009 PICTURES GENERATION 1974-1984 blue horse
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER metropolitan museum 2009 PICTURES GENERATION 1974-1984 making of a wreath 1975
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER ny blueandbrown.23x14.1975
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER ny blueandbrown.23x14.1975 detail
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER ny blue japan 1975 detail
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER ny blue japan 1975 detail1
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER ny brown slab 1975
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER racecar.driver 1975 4x7"
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER ali over spinks 1977 11x9"
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER s black football tackle
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER diving catch baseball 1974 5x7.25"
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER s yellow quarterback hal hocking
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER football 44 bluegreen 5x8"
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER W chapin convicted of perjury 1974
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER W chapin convicted of perjury 1974 1
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER W excerpts from st clair's brief to panel 1974
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER W excerpts from st clair's brief to panel 1974 detail
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER W fashions of watergate 1974 jill on right is tv commentator on impeachment
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER W march 31 dean and the president discuss the problem of clemency for hunt 1974
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER mummies distorted gray maskish 1975 5x3"
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER mummies frankenstein blue 1975 5x3"
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER mummies frankenstein primary colors 1975 5x3"
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER mummies frankenstein white 1975 5x3"
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER mummies rainbowface 1975 5x3"
PASTELS ON NEWSPAPER mummies sandswept 1975 5x3"
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