Contemporary artists McDermott & McGough are best known for their sumptuous “archaic” photographs or, perhaps, for their continued insistence on living in the past. The first assumption is unfortunate, the second untrue. Arena’s book, reproducing 73 cyanotypes, palladium, and gum bichromate prints in the highest quality allows one to understand the photographs’ popularity. The mixture of such delicate processes and the superficially nostalgic contentAhigh romantic tableaus, still lifes, and mimicry of famous artworksAcreate alluring pieces. But the paintings and graphic works in the exhibition catalog from Stichting Kunstboek add a depth of meaning to the photographs that Durant’s fine essay cannot. We begin to understand that each work is more a manifesto than a souvenir. As for the second assumption, it is true that the pair dress in vintage garb, live in an apartment with antique fixtures, and produce their art using old-fashioned methods. But they are not trying to “live in the past” so much as they are trying to alter the present, raise questions about the nature of progress, and fight the evils they foresee in the future. Their purposeful contradictions become apparent in the duo’s art in the second bookAmore than 150 full-color reproductions, roughly one-third photographs. Combining Gilbert & George’s mastery of the couple as artist and Josef Beuys’s manipulation of public/private iconography, McDermott & McGough are among the most noteworthy of young American artists.