Ryan McGinness Studio Views Press Release
Studio Views and Collection Views - Ryan McGinness
November 17, 2017 - March 18, 2018
Organized by Cranbrook Art Museum with support from Library Street Collective.
Acclaimed contemporary artist Ryan McGinness is coming to the Detroit area with an ambitious exhibition at Cranbrook Art Museum and public project in downtown Detroit that mines the city’s creative past for the present. At Cranbrook Art Museum in November 2017, he will premiere the exhibition Ryan McGinness: Studio Views, which consists of a large-scale installation based on his studio practice and a presentation of drawings and iconography created from artworks in the Museum’s collection.
McGinness’s creative origins are from skateboarding culture in the mid-1990s that evolved into an expansive graphic design and studio art career. From early on, he understood the power of iconography and was influenced by the symbols one encounters in street signage, corporate logos, and popular culture. Whether creating simple design graphics or cacophonously layered paintings, the core of McGinness’s creative process consists of distilling imagery ranging from everyday objects to dreamscapes—the mundane and the absurd—into its basic characteristics of shape, form, and composition. He creates forms of communication that are not dependent on spoken language, but are rather visual ideograms of contemporary life.
In mindful proximity to the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Ryan McGinness: Studio Views is an exhibition about artistic process and a glimpse into McGinness’ studio practice. The Main Gallery at Cranbrook Art Museum will consist of 35 new paintings that immerse the viewer inside a stylized panorama of the artist’s studio. With a shared horizon of the studio floor, each painting depicts a scene of artworks and objects under construction; however, this visualization of process is in fact the final artwork. In the center of the gallery, McGinness has bolted together used silkscreens to create a physical maze for viewers to explore and discover a series of small sculptures. In an adjacent gallery, McGinness will present Collection Views, a series of new icons inspired by art and design objects that the artist has selected from the museum’s collection. The display will also include the artist’s preparatory sketches created in the development of this new iconography.
Throughout all of these projects, McGinness makes legible the individual elements of each subject—whether the artist’s studio, the museum’s collection, or a piece of the city’s history—offering the viewer new insights into how the artist approaches the world like a visual puzzle.
Ryan McGinness: Studio Views was presented at Cranbrook Art Museum contemporaneously alongside three other solo exhibitions by artists that all operate at the intersection of art and street culture: Basquiat Before Basquiat: East 12th Street, 1979-1980 (traveling from MCA Denver); Keith Haring: The End of the Line; and Maya Stovall: Liquor Store Theatre Performance Films.
Trained formally as a graphic designer, the paintings of Ryan McGinness merge controlled abstraction with subverted logos and symbology to create bold delineative paintings. He is heavily influenced by artists such as Keith Haring and Andy Warhol, as well as insights that began as a skate kid in Virginia Beach: “I was always interested in how the application of symbols on what are otherwise ordinary objects, like skateboards and T-shirts, really transformed the value of those things. When I couldn’t afford the cool brands, I would just make my own.” Early on in his career, McGinness wrote and released a book called flatnessisgod, which has become something of a bible for designers worldwide and was celebrated by Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami. He has become known for his conceptual and tightly executed projects, including one titled InstagrAM that was presented via the social media platform - a dot matrix self portrait made of hundreds of button-sized black and white text slogans. McGinness continuously challenges the language of graphics and advertising through his paintings, installations and sculptures. His more recent works, #metadata, explore the impact of an assault of imagery, while Screen Combines encourages the viewer to navigate through a maze of paintings made on used silkscreens from prior work.
McGuinness's past solo exhibitions include Kohn Gallery, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Deitch Projects, Pace Prints and the Cincinnati Art Museum. His work is found in numerous public and private institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, UBS Collection, JP Morgan Chase, The New York Public Library, and The Schwab Family Collection.