Ryan McGinley b. 1977, Ramsey, New Jersey
Chromogenic print, face-mounted to acrylic
40 x 27 inches (101.6 x 68.6 cm)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Purchased with funds contributed by the Young Collectors Council, 2007
Ryan McGinley gravitated toward street culture early in his adolescence and began hanging out with a band of self-proclaimed outsiders—skateboarders, club kids, graffiti artists, queer-identified youths, and indie musicians—in New Jersey and downtown Manhattan. What began as candid images of his and his friends’ lifestyles are now seen as iconic documents of a generation. McGinley’s early photographs show androgynous, often-nude youths raving, hanging precariously from rooftops, shoplifting, running, falling, cavorting, and living with hedonistic abandon, exuberance, and rebellion. While initially capturing youth culture in an urban context, in 2003 McGinley began to place his subjects in the natural world, constructing loose situations that would inspire spontaneous actions. Throughout, McGinley’s friends have been willing collaborators, keenly aware of the camera while displaying a transcendent candor, as they help to create enticing visions of a new bohemian coterie. In a later series of 2004–06, McGinley photographed fans of the musician Morrissey whom he did not know personally, though he had intimate knowledge of their milieu, having also been a fan himself. Here, while following Morrissey’s tours for two years, he portrays the enraptured experience of individuals lost in their devotion to an idol.