Ryan McGinley Exhibit
2017 at the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, Colorado.
The Denver Museum of Contemporary Art is currently (Summer 2017) featuring American photographer Ryan McGinley and his works based around “The Kids are Alright”. The exhibit did Ryan a dis-justice as it didn’t portray his fantastical new works and creations. It rather stemmed on his earlier works that honestly disenchanted me and I left the exhibit not impressed I really didn’t see anything ‘alright’ in the exhibit. Perhaps meant to be an in-your-face exhibit of the life and times of his shenanigans, I personally don’t see what all the hype is about this particular collection of works. I like his current works. I love some of his travel photography and collective works of recent. His work is creative and unique as of late, but this earlier “The Kids Are Alright” works – outside of ‘maybe’ capturing some unexpected moments, was just lacking. That’s the word of the day … “lacking”. I really didn’t see quality in the photography either, but then again, I’m not a fan of contemporary art – and maybe I just don’t get it. It was really sub-standard, the photos and works they displayed in the exhibit. While he has 5 star work today, I’ll have to rate this exhibit with a One star out of 5. Rating: 1 star of 5
Ryan was a popular photographer in the late 1990’s. He was born on October 17, 1977 and grew up in New Jersey and New York City inspired by skateboarders, graffiti artists, fringe museums and artists. He began photography in 1998 By the age of 25, in 2003, he was one of the youngest artists to put on a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the same year named Photographer of the Year by American Photo Magazine. Years later in 2007 he was awarded the Young Photographer Infinity Award by the International Center of Photography and by 2009 honored at the Young Collector’s Council’s Artists Ball at the Guggenheim Museum. Snowboard instructor at Campgaw Mountain in New Jersey from 1992-1995, by 1997 he was a graphic design student at the Parsons School of Design in New York. By 1998 he was living in the East village and was known to have covered the walls of his apartment with polaroid pics of everyone who visited him there. He experimented with photography styles when studying at Parsons putting together the images as a self-made book called “The Kids are Alright” named after film about the music band “The Who”. The scholar and curator “Sylvia Wolf” who organized together his exhibition claimed that “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.” As his works are supposedly portraying liberation and hedonism, I didn’t see it … at least not to my standards or definitions of such portrayal.
He has changed photographic style of capturing his friends in real-life situations to become more envisioned situations that can be photographed such as at festivals, art schools, and street castings. TIME magazine stated that photography is about freezing a moment in time, and McGinley’s is about freezing a stage in a lifetime as a fly on the wall ready to capture any moment evolving to setting up the photos to make them happen as waiting around he began to believe was a waste of time. Perhaps his new works are better done and captured. These were not portrayed in this exhibit, at least from not what I saw. By 2009 McGinley returned to experimenting with traditional studio portraiture and moving into digital photography.
His early works were done on 35 mm film using Yashica T4s and Leica R8s. Today he utilizes digital photography. He contributes to various high-profile charities and is passionate about raising funds for HIV/AIDS awareness and/or treatment. He has become nicknamed the “Pied Piper of the Downtown Art World”. In 2008, the band Sigur Rós from Iceland used one of his images for their 5th album and his work inspired their album “Gobbledigook”. He has also photographed Lady Gaga for Rolling Stone, Lorde for Dazed and Confused, and Beyonce for Beat Magazine.