1981. “Morning in America.” Inauguration and attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. Worst recession since the 30s. Emergence of AIDS. Launch of MTV, the IBM PC, Tattoo You, and the De Lorean. Keith Haring sprays subways, Guernica returns to Madrid, Ali loses his last bout, Sandra Day O’Connor is the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Dennis McNulty, age 6, develops an intense fascination with the patterns, palettes, and compositions of the pinup illustrations, car ads, and images of menswear featured in his father’s collection of Playboy.
Twenty-eight years later, McNulty re-engages the colors, shapes, and layouts of early 1980s men’s magazine design, zeroing in on the genre’s own re-engagement of the pinup icons of the 1940s and 1950s. Mindful of the broader definitions of “pervert” as both noun and verb, McNulty distorts the quasi-underground tradition of pinup art, presenting it not as nostalgia or historical quotation, but as a subjective, personal aesthetic interpretation. The results are provocative, infused with a disquieting sexual force that is by turns amusing and unsettling.