Reviews: Ryan McGinness, Danziger Projects/Deitch ProjectsBy Donald Kuspit
The marginalia inscribed by Albrecht DĂŒrer in the Prayer Book he illustrated for the Emperor
Maximilian, which are full of witty grotesquerie and tendril-like, hyperexpressive arabesques,
constitute perhaps the last grand statements of the genre. Ryan McGinness, as evidenced by
recent concurrent shows at Danziger Projects and Deitch Projects, revives the practice by making typographical flourishes and stylized shapes the kind traditionally confined to the edges of a
page into his workâs central feature. In so doing, he suggests that there is no difference in either
aesthetic value or emotional depth between supposedly peripheral doodling and grand central
However, McGinnessâs manner is rather more quixotic than DĂŒrerâs: He dispenses with text
altogether in favor of baroque decoration, excited lines and rich colors converging in spontaneous
pseudologos with a legibility all their own. Looking carefully into the tangle of shapes, one finds
figures and scenes that suggest a narrative, and idea thatâs confirmed by titles such as ToolsCelebrate Their Usefulness and Lucky Cows Drink Milk from the show at Deitch (all works 2005).
McGinness is not just making ornamental abstractions: he wants to make a statement.
Unfortunately, though, the statements sometimes seem lost in the prettiness. McGinness claims that he wants âto communicate complex and poetic concepts with a cold graphic, and authoritative visual vocabulary,â yet while he can certainly boast a degree of technical expertise, his works are hardly cold. In the installation at Deitch, the radiant colors of the numerous tondos painted on and projecting from the walls made this abundantly clear. They give off a kind of dry heatânot exactly comforting but hardly examples of the clinical detachment to which the artistâs statement indicates he aspires.
In fact, a love of nature and a not so reluctant romanticism are detectable in many works, however street-smart their titles. McGinness uses titles as tongue-in-cheek disclaimers to defend his work against accusations of aestheticism or sentimentality, but he is an aesthete and a sentimentalist, as witness the beautiful Alia Iacta Est, which suggests a rich fantasy life and a romantic sensibility. Read the entire article hereSource:
McGinness is GodBy Criswell Lappin
For those inclined to debate the line that separates graphic design from fine art, there is no
better case study than Ryan McGinness. Before publishing Flatnessisgod in 1999âthe first of nine
booksâthe 33-year-old artist received formal graphic-design training at Carnegie Mellon
University and participated in a curatorial internship at the Andy Warhol Museum, followed by
a six-month stint with Michael Bierut, at Pentagram. It was a tidy beginning to what would be
considered a successful design career by most standards.
But with Flatnessisgod, McGinness began his definitive passage out of the service industry (design)
into the âself-serviceâ industry (art). He makes no apologies for the reason he left the design profession:
he doesnât like to collaborate. While that attitude is probably shared by more than a few
graphic designers, not many are brazen enough to admit or act on it. One reason McGinness is
noteworthy to designers is that his highly stylistic approach consists mostly of
vector-based flat shapes that reflect his graphic-design experience.
That, in large part, is why
McGinness has been a catalyst for the design/art argument: his art looks like graphic design.
The fact that his work usually appears in traditional graphic media like books, installations and
products only reinforces that perception. Metropolis creative director Criswell Lappin spoke to McGinness about the evolution of his work,
his book Installationview (Rizzoli)âreleased this month in conjunction with solo exhibitions at
Danziger Projects and Deitch Projectsâthe difference between design and art, and his thoughts
about the software company Adobe.
How has your work evolved from Flatnessigod to Installationview?
Installationview is a cross between an exhibition catalog and an artistâs book. In Flatnessisgod
I took advantage of the book format to make work specifically for the pages, but there were also
reproductions of things that came from outside the book. This new book is the same idea, except
in full color and using recent workâpaintings from the last five years.
Is most of your work still silkscreened?
Yeah, layered silkscreens, and Iâm also showing a lot of installations. The other component is the
process. Iâve been frustrated with art books that show the final project but donât provide any
insight about how the piece materialized. Iâm interested in revealing the process as wellâsketches,
notes, storyboards. Itâs going to be a thick and juicy book. ead the entire article hereSource: metropolis