McCormick lectures and teaches extensively at universities and colleges around the United States on popular culture and art. His writing has appeared in Aperture, Art in America, Art News, Artforum, Camera Austria, High Times, Spin (magazine), Tokion, Vice and other magazines. McCormick is Senior Editor of Paper (magazine).
McCormick was guest curator of The Downtown Show: the New York Art Scene from 1974 to 1984 (in consultation with Lynn Gumpert, and Marvin J. Taylor) that was held at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery and Fales Library.
This exhibition examined the rich cross-section of artists and activities that coexisted and often overlapped in Lower Manhattan between 1974 and 1984. Emerging out of the deflated optimism of the Summer of Love (and energized by the enactment of the Loft Laws that made it legal for artists to live in downtown New York's industrial spaces) the Downtown no wave scene attracted painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, performance art, filmmakers, and writers who could afford the then-low rent lofts and Lower East Side tenement apartments.
In 1985 McCormick had just written a eulogy entitled "East Village R.I.P." when he received a request to curate an exhibition. The idea of an "exhibition" became a weekend of installation art where the artists competed to write and draw shocking messages on the walls. McCormick's wife the film-maker Tessa Hughes-Freeland was there as were several artists including Marilyn Minter, Luis Frangella, James Romberger, Marguerite Van Cook and David Wojnarowicz. The Neopolitan gallery in Richmond, Virginia which was complete with polished floors and stained glass windows supplied beer and a place to stay. But the artists themselves were working through the night, using LSD and garish colours and shocking images that were joined together by profanities applied over the results and decorative additions by Frangella. Reportedly the gallery was pleased to see them go, but they repeated the installation twice later.
The Downtown Show: the New York Art Scene from 1974 to 1984 show traveled to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (May 20 to September 3, 2006) and the Austin Museum of Art, in Austin, Texas (November 18, 2006, to January 28, 2007). It was chosen as first place winner by The International Association of Art Critics/USA (AICA USA) for best thematic show in New York City in 2005-2006.
- Carr, Cynthia (2012). Fire in the belly the life and times of David Wojnarowicz. New York: Bloomsbury. p. contents. ISBN 1608194205. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
- Carlo McCormick, "The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene, 1974–1984", Princeton University Press, 2006
- Grace Glueck, "The Downtown Scene", When It Was Still Dirty", The New York Times, January 13, 2006
- João Ribas, Artinfo,"Carlo McCormick", January 23, 2006
- Carlo McCormick & Walter Robinson, (1982) "Slouching Toward Avenue D", Art in America
- Mairi Beautyman, AICA Announces Best Exhibitions of 2005-2006 Season, Interior Design, January 11, 2007