Ryan McGinley

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Ryan McGinley
Born (1977-10-17) October 17, 1977 (age 38)
Ramsey, New Jersey, USA
Nationality American
Known for Photography
Website http://ryanmcginley.com

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.[1] In 2007 McGinley was awarded the Young Photographer Infinity Award by the International Center of Photography.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

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 artists, musicians, and artists that were considered to be on the fringes of society. He enrolled as a graphic design student[3] 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,[4] 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."[5]

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."[6]

Ariel Levy, writing in New York 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."[7]

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.[8] 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.'"[5]

In an April 2010 article in Vice Magazine, McGinley identified Gilles Larrain as one of his early influences, particularly Larrain's 1973 book Idols..[9]

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." [10]

Commissioned by Italian luxury label Bottega Veneta, McGinley photographed Swedish fashion model Tilda Lindstam in the New York Botanical Garden for the brand’s 2014/15 cruise collection campaign.[11]


McGinley is credited for the formation of the New York City based band The Virgins after introducing and photographing two of its members in Tulum in 2004.

McGinley said of the band, "Their lyrics are really poetic and very much about New York and the life that we live." [12]

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." [13]

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.[14]

Editorial work[edit]

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."[15]

He has also contributed editorial portfolios to the New York Times Magazine, Oscars,[16] 2004 Olympic Swimmers[17] 2010 Winter Olympics.[18]

Short films[edit]


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.[4] 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.[19] 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." [20]

In 2008 he exhibited I Know Where the Summer Goes], also at Team Gallery.[21] 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." [22]

In October 2010, McGinley opened his exhibition Life Adjustment Center [23] at Ratio 3 in San Francisco. There he debuted two new portfolios of black and white portraits and color photographs.

In 2012, McGinley became the first artist to have simultaneous shows at Team Gallery's two SoHo locations. Animals [24] and Grids [25] juxtaposed two new series of photographs: nudes with animals and large grids of intimate portraits of young concert-goers.

In 2013, McGinley exhibited his largest project to date,Yearbook. A collection of hundreds of colorful studio portraits but conceived as a single artwork, the installation covered every available inch of the walls of San Francisco's Ratio 3.[26] In 2014, the exhibition grew larger, this time staged at Team Gallery.[27] Yearbook continued to travel in 2015, showing at Kunsthal kAdE in Amersfoort [28] and Art Unlimited at Art Basel.[29]

In 2015, McGinley's work further departed from his summer road trip series with bicoastal exhibitions Fall [30] and Winter,[31] at Team Gallery's SoHo and Venice Beach locations.


McGinley's work is featured in public collections in the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

Art market[edit]

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.



  1. ^ Jack Crager, American Photo, July/August 2003
  2. ^ "Ryan McGinley Young Photographer". Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. 
  3. ^ Philip Gefer (May 6, 2007), A Young Man With an Eye, and Friends Up a Tree New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Holland Cotter (February 14, 2003), 'The Kids Are Alright' -- 'Photographs by Ryan McGinley' New York Times.
  5. ^ a b Philip Gefter, The New York Times, Sunday, May 6, 2007
  6. ^ "[1]", Ariel Levy, Chasing Dash Snow, New York magazine, Jan 7, 2007
  7. ^ Levy, Ariel (2007-11-25). "Chasing Artist and Downtown Legend Dash Snow - New York Magazine". Nymag.com. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  8. ^ Horacio Silva (March 18, 2010), Studio Visit | Ryan McGinley T.
  9. ^ http://www.viceland.com/int/v17n3/htdocs/gilles-larrain-368.php
  10. ^ "[2]", Jeffrey Kluger, TIME, Thursday, May. 29, 2008
  11. ^ Emily Farra (October 30, 2014), Exclusive: Bottega Veneta and Ryan McGinley’s Resort ’15 Video Style.com.
  12. ^ Lauren Gitlin, SPIN, November, 2007
  13. ^ "[3]", Jody Rosen, Rolling Stone, June 26, 2008
  14. ^ "sigur rós - discography » með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust". sigur-ros.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  15. ^ "[4]", Ryan McGinley, Why Is Jack Walls the Coolest Motherfucker on Earth?, Vice, November, 2007
  16. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/magazine/20080210_OSCARS_FEATURE/
  17. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/08/magazine/08OLYMPIC.html?ex=1249704000&en=de16b8a8cfa99541&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland
  18. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/olympics/2010/highfliers/index.html?ref=magazine
  19. ^ http://www.teamgal.com/artists/ryan_mc_ginley/exhibitions/4
  20. ^ "[5]", David Velasco, Artforum, January 5, 2007
  21. ^ http://www.teamgal.com/artists/ryan_mc_ginley/exhibitions/131
  22. ^ Jeffrey Kluger, , Thursday, May 29, 2008
  23. ^ http://www.ratio3.org/exhibitions/2010/ryan-mcginley-life-adjustment-center
  24. ^ "Ryan McGinley : Animals". teamgal.com. Retrieved 2016-01-11. 
  25. ^ "Ryan McGinley : Grids". www.teamgal.com. Retrieved 2016-01-11. 
  26. ^ "Ryan McGinley: YEARBOOK | Ratio 3 - San Francisco". www.ratio3.org. Retrieved 2016-01-11. 
  27. ^ "Ryan McGinley : YEARBOOK". teamgal.com. Retrieved 2016-01-11. 
  28. ^ "Ryan McGinley Photographs 1999-2015". www.kunsthalkade.nl. Retrieved 2016-01-11. 
  29. ^ "Ryan McGinley : Art | 46 | Basel | Art Unlimited". teamgal.com. Retrieved 2016-01-11. 
  30. ^ "Ryan McGinley : Fall". teamgal.com. Retrieved 2016-01-11. 
  31. ^ "Ryan McGinley : Winter". teamgal.com. Retrieved 2016-01-11. 

External links[edit]