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

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