October 17, 1977 |
Ramsey, New Jersey, USA
Ryan McGinley (born October 17, 1977) is an American photographer living in New York City who began making photographs in 1998. In 2003, at the age of 25, McGinley was one of the youngest artists to have a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He was also named Photographer of the Year in 2003 by American Photo Magazine. In 2007 McGinley was awarded the Young Photographer Infinity Award by the International Center of Photography.
Early life and education
Ryan David McGinley, born in Ramsey, New Jersey, is the youngest of eight children. From an early age his peers and mentors were skateboarders, graffiti writers, musicians, and artists that were considered to be on the fringes of society. He enrolled as a graphic design student at Parsons School of Design in New York in 1995. He moved to the East Village in 1998, and covered the walls of his apartment with Polaroid pictures of everyone who visited him there.
McGinley had his first public exhibition in 2000 at 420 West Broadway in Manhattan in a DIY opening. Later, as a student at Parsons, he started taking pictures, which he put together in a book, self-published in 1999, called The Kids Are Alright. The book was titled after a film about The Who, was handmade and distributed to people he respected in the art world and sold at the exhibition. One copy was given to scholar and curator Sylvia Wolf, who later organized McGinley's solo exhibition at the Whitney. Wolf, in an essay about McGinley, wrote, "The skateboarders, musicians, graffiti artists and gay people in Mr. McGinley's early work 'know what it means to be photographed. [...] His subjects are performing for the camera and exploring themselves with an acute self-awareness that is decidedly contemporary. They are savvy about visual culture, acutely aware of how identity can be not only communicated but created. They are willing collaborators."
McGinley has been long time friends with fellow downtown artists Dan Colen and the late Dash Snow. McGinley said of Snow, "I guess I get obsessed with people, and I really became fascinated by Dash." 
Ariel Levy, writing in NY Magazine about McGinley's friend and collaborator, Dash Snow, said, "People fall in love with McGinleyʼs work because it tells a story about liberation and hedonism: Where Goldin and Larry Clark were saying something painful and anxiety producing about Kids and what happens when they take drugs and have sex in an ungoverned urban underworld, McGinley started out announcing that 'The Kids Are Alright,' fantastic, really, and suggested that a gleeful, unfettered subculture was just around the corner—'still'—if only you knew where to look."
Since 2004, McGinley's style evolved from documenting his friends in real-life situations towards creating settings where the situations he envisions can be documented. He casts his subjects at rock ‘n’ roll festivals, art schools, and street castings in cities. He shoots 35mm film and makes his photographs using Yashica T4s and Leica R8s. McGinley has drawn much inspiration from Terrence Malick's film Days of Heaven. Critic Philip Gefter, in a 2007 feature about McGinley, wrote, "He was a fly on the wall. But then he began to direct the activities, photographing his subjects in a cinema-verite mode. 'I got to the point where I couldn’t wait for the pictures to happen anymore,' he said. 'I was wasting time, and so I started making pictures happen. It borders between being set up or really happening. There’s that fine line.'"
Critic Jeffrey Kluger wrote in 2008, "Photography is about freezing a moment in time; McGinley's is about freezing a stage in a lifetime. Young and beautiful is as fleeting as a camera snap--and thus all the more worth preserving."  Link
McGinley said of the band, "Their lyrics are really poetic and very much about New York and the life that we live." 
Donald Cumming, the lead singer of the Virgins was noted as being one of McGinley's regular models. Music critic Jody Rosen wrote, "'Maybe if you change your hair/You'd be good enough,' Donald Cumming sneers in 'Fernando Pando.' He knows of what he sings: Cumming has been a fixture of New York's downtown demimonde since he was 16, making films and modeling for hip young photographer Ryan McGinley."  Link
In 2008, the Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós used one of McGinley's images for their fifth album Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust. The video for the first track from the album, "Gobbledigook", was inspired by his work.
McGinley interviewed long time friend and mentor Jack Walls for an article in Vice magazine. In the introduction he wrote, "I spent two weeks making 500 hand-drawn balloons for Jack Walls’s 50th birthday party." Link
As part of the museum's First Exposure series, a showcase for new photography, McGinley had had a solo show at the Whitney Museum in 2003. In recent years, his photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide. He has had solo shows at MoMA P.S.1 in New York (2004), in Spain at the MUSAC in Leon (2005). In 2005, he was the laureate of the Rencontres d'Arles Discovery Award.
In 2007 McGinley exhibited his show, Irregular Regulars, at Team Gallery in SoHo. Art critic David Velasco, in his review of the show, wrote, "McGinley went on a two-year road trip, traveling to dozens of Morrissey concerts in the US, the UK, and Mexico. The resultant photos, many of which are densely saturated in the concerts’ colored lights, feature candid shots of fans, regularly zooming in for seductive close-ups of enamored youngsters—a celebration of the ecstatic cult of fame and its ardent enablers."  link
In 2008 he exhibited I Know Where the Summer Goes, also at Team Gallery. Kluger, writing in TIME, said, "But his favorite subject remains youth, as his 2008 exhibit, 'I Know Where the Summer Goes,' proves. In that collection, McGinley's troupe travels the country as he photographs them, sometimes clothed and often not, while they leap fences, lounge in a desert, play together in a tree." 
McGinley is represented by Jose Freire at Team Gallery in NYC, Chris Perez at Ratio 3 Gallery in San Francisco, Alison Jaques in London, Larissa Bischoff at Bischoff Projects in Frankfurt am Main and managed commercially by Shea Spencer at Artist Commissions.
- 2002: The Kids Are Alright. Handmade, New York
- 2004: Ryan McGinley (PS1 exhibition catalogue). Flasher Factory, New York ISBN 0-9754527-1-1
- 2006: Sun and Health. agnès b. Galerie du Jour, Paris ISBN 2-906496-48-0
- 2009: Moonmilk. Mörel Books, London ISBN 978-1-907071-09-6
- 2010: "Life Adjustment Center". Dashwood Books, New York ISBN 978-0-9844546-2-4
- Jack Crager, American Photo, July/August 2003
- "Ryan McGinley Young Photographer".[dead link]
- Philip Gefer (May 6, 2007), A Young Man With an Eye, and Friends Up a Tree New York Times.
- Holland Cotter (February 14, 2003), 'The Kids Are Alright' -- 'Photographs by Ryan McGinley' New York Times.
- Philip Gefter, The New York Times, Sunday, May 6, 2007
- Ariel Levy, Chasing Dash Snow, NY Magazine, Jan 7, 2007
- Levy, Ariel (2007-11-25). "Chasing Artist and Downtown Legend Dash Snow - New York Magazine". Nymag.com. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
- Horacio Silva (March 18, 2010), Studio Visit | Ryan McGinley T.
- Jeffrey Kluger, TIME, Thursday, May. 29, 2008
- Lauren Gitlin, SPIN, November, 2007
- Jody Rosen, Rolling Stone, June 26, 2008
- "sigur rós - discography » með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust". sigur-ros.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
- Ryan McGinley, Why Is Jack Walls the Coolest Motherfucker on Earth?, Vice, November, 2007
- David Velasco, Artforum, January 5, 2007
- Jeffrey Kluger, , Thursday, May 29, 2008
- Ryan McGinley - Homepage
- Team Gallery
- Irregular Regulars
- I Know Where the Summer Goes
- Ratio 3
- Alison Jaques
- Ryan McGinley at Bischoff Projects, Frankfurt am Main
- Mörel Books
- Artist Commissions
- New York Times Magazine - Oscars
- New York Times Magazine - 2004 Olympic Swimmers
- 2010 Winter Olympics
- New Yorker
- Rolling Stone
- Sigur Rós Album Cover
- Young Photographer Infinity Awards
- A Young Man With an Eye, and Friends Up a Tree by Philip Gefter, New York Times, May 6, 2007