“A figure of deep deep irony,” as Conceptual artist Barbara Kruger remembers him, McMahon specialized in oddball spins on vernacular forms of image circulation and distribution, such as currency, postcards and newspapers. Of course these carriers of information were located squarely in the realm of Conceptual art…What McMahon did with these orthodox Conceptual formats was to travesty them by scrawling messages on the front of the…postcards were uniquely crafted, hilariously inappropriate phrases that cancelled out the supposed normalcy of the garishly colored images.
A bathing beauty stretched horizontally across the card, a sexualized yet perversely wholesome piece of cheesecake was captioned “death wish”, the name of the then-current revenge flick -a sprinkling of homegrown Thanatos over the machine-made Eros. As befit the era of Watergate, McMahon turned a vertical picture of the Capitol on its side and appended the word “loss” to its detumescent form. A dramatically costumed Chinese couple gazing intently at each other cryptically suggested another kind of private rebellion by saying, “We must develop a philosophy of out own.”…the eruption of inappropriate thoughts testified to the normally repressed condition that represented everyday life in a media-saturated culture. It is not surprising that Vito Acconci, whose artist’s persona depended on carefully calibrated acts of deranged transgression handled at a cool remove, especially appreciated these works. -Douglas Eklund THE PICTURES GENERATION 1974-1984 METROPOLITAN MUSEUM 2009 Yale University Press
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