New York

McDermott & McGough

Cheim & Read

In their recent exhibition, “A True Story Based on Lies,” McDermott & McGough presented a series of crisply painted, brightly colored canvases that rework lurid comic book and commercial illustrations. Chump into a Champ, 1964, 2005, for example, shows the iconic Charles Atlas bodybuilding ad in which a skinny loser gets shoved in the face by a fairground muscle man, only to buff up and avenge himself, thereby winning the adoration of a girlfriend who had earlier joined in mocking him.

The background of the Pop-style montage Don’t Be Half a Man, 1964, 2005, depicts the other famous Atlas ad aimed at demeaning sensitive string beans, in which the hapless scrawny boy—called “girlie” by his tormentor—returns after his Atlas workout to punch out a beach brute. The upper foreground of this montage also shows, in profile, the free-floating bust of a young, muscular Guy Madison, his boyish face

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. Please sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW and save up to 65% off the newsstand price for full online access to this issue and our archive.

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.