The Breeder is delighted to present the first solo exhibition in Greece of American photographer Ryan McGinley (New Jersey, 1977). The exhibition consists of new works representing three aspects of McGinley’s practice: “Moonmilk,” road trips, and black & white portraits. Ryan McGinley has been making photographs since 1998, and received early acclaim from some of the most important art institutions in the U.S. His work is quintessentially American in its spirit of exuberance and optimism and in its lust for adventure, exploration, open space and ultimate freedom. In his preoccupation with the journey and the people who share it, McGinley is a direct heir to authors Mark Twain, Jules Verne and Jack Kerouac, and to photographers such as Robert Frank, Nan Goldin and Wolfgang Tillmans. There is also an element of hippy abandon (his frolicking nude youths in nature recall Woodstock images) and the staged spontaneity that harks back to the Happenings of the 60s and 70s. In 2005, after several years of documenting his New York City subcultures, McGinley took his camera and friends (his source of models) on the open road. Every summer since then, he has traveled the American countryside, photographing his model-friends, nude, in spectacular or abstracted landscapes and other situations. In each road trip McGinley focuses on a different natural element. This past summer it was the largely uncharted caves of the American south, which resulted in the “Moonmilk” series. The title refers to the crystalline deposits on some cave walls, once thought to be the byproduct of light from celestial bodies passing through rock into the netherworld. The otherworldly, ethereal or elsewhere harsh and forbidding caverns function as portals through which his vulnerable but intrepid nude protagonists travel from the primordial past to a future cosmos. McGinley’s road-trip photographs straddle the delicate fence between staging and spontaneity. He selects models with strong personalities who are capable of improvisation. He sets up a general situation and documents their action, which he then restages or enhances with special effects such as fireworks or smoke machines. His intimate black and white portraits of skateboarders, musicians, graffiti artists and other people in his environment are willing collaborators in McGinley’s project. There is the sense that as he documents their personalities and explores their motivations, that the subjects themselves are involved in their own process of self-discovery. The resulting images are intimate, sexy, joyous, unabashedly frivolous – and totally honest.
Ryan McGinley was born in Ramsey, New Jersey in 1977 and lives and works in New York. Solo museum shows include FOAM Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam (2007), Kunsthalle Vienna (2006), Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (2005), P.S. 1, New York (2004). In 2003, at the age of 24, McGinley was the youngest artist to be given a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2007 he received the Young Photographer Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, New York, and was named Photographer of the Year 2003 by American Photography Magazine. Public collections include: Whitney; Guggenheim; SFMoMA, San Francisco; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Ellipse Foundation, Portugal.
Andrea Gilbert – art critic