Selected works by Ryan McGinness

Ryan McGinness
Under Five Chairs Psychiatrists Wink


acrylic on canvas

182.9 x 457.2 cm
Drawing from his background in the design industry, Ryan McGinness’s work resolves the clinical graphic aesthetics of media as vast, contemplative fields of intimate meditation. Under Five Chairs Psychiatrists Wink is set across three panels, each beaconing with a baroque entrancement. Woven together with delicate intricacy, McGinness’s forms converge in a kaleidoscope of free-flowing associations: Stylised motifs, calligraphic patterns, and abstracted tattoo-like insignia overlap in arabesque mandalas. Framed within rich black and red planes, McGinness’s painting is reminiscent of ancient tapestries, fabricating the iconography of contemporary experience as spiritual and timeless.
Ryan McGinness
Arab Cadillac Generator


acrylic on wood panel

Partaking in mark-making as a timeless form of communication, McGinness’s process of painting is devoid of the artist’s exclusive gesture. His ultra-smooth surfaces are embellished through veneers of spray paint and silk-screen, coining seamlessly manufactured fields free from personal contact. Although he replicates styles and designs that seem innately familiar, McGinness’s iconography is entirely his own. Effecting a ‘copy’ for which there is no original, McGinness presents a system of signs and signifiers that are infinitely unfixed and universal. Using typography as a tool of abstraction, McGinness exceeds the notion of painting as objective field; instead, his work reconstitutes beauty and spirituality as a bi-product of technology and virtual experience.
Ryan McGinness


acrylic on wood panel

121.9 cm in diamete
Extending beyond Pop’s elevation of marketing logos to art, McGinness pushes his work into the realm of the commodity. His output spans from traditional paintings to video, installations and a range of consumer products, fusing high and low culture through the language of advertising. In MKULTRA – titled after the 1950s CIA mind control project – McGinness presents a trippy amalgamation of symbols and patterns on a circular panel. Set on a red background, McGinness’s entwined logos concentrate sensations of uneasy exotica in their Eastern influenced aesthetic. Using graphic design as subterfuge, McGinness explores the intrinsic cultural narratives contained within generic form.
Ryan McGinness
An(n)us Mirabilis


acrylic on linen

243.8 x 243.8cm
In An(n)us Mirabilis, Ryan McGinness wittily subverts the title of Einstein’s pivotal publication with abject humour. Spiralling from a central ‘orifice’, McGinness’s scrivenery exudes a hypnotic quality as flourishing interlaced scripts create a beaconing pattern in their subtle shift of colour. Replicating the corporeal reference of hair and visualising the virtual field of information, McGinness’s An(n)us Mirabilis seduces with its graphic perfection. Expanding in a field of weightlessness and disorientation, An(n)us Miraibilis frames desire and detachment as an aperture into the infinite.


Reviews: Ryan McGinness, Danziger Projects/Deitch Projects

By Donald Kuspit

The marginalia inscribed by Albrecht Dürer 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 work’s 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, McGinness’s manner is rather more quixotic than Dürer’s: 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 that’s 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 “to communicate complex and poetic concepts with a cold graphic, and authoritative visual vocabulary,” 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 heat—not exactly comforting but hardly examples of the clinical detachment to which the artist’s 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 here
Source: artforum

McGinness is God

By 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 1999—the first of nine
books—the 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 “self-service” industry (art). He makes no apologies for the reason he left the design profession:
he doesn’t 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)—released this month in conjunction with solo exhibitions at
Danziger Projects and Deitch Projects—the 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 artist’s 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 work—paintings from the last five years.

Is most of your work still silkscreened?
Yeah, layered silkscreens, and I’m also showing a lot of installations. The other component is the
process. I’ve been frustrated with art books that show the final project but don’t provide any
insight about how the piece materialized. I’m interested in revealing the process as well—sketches,
notes, storyboards. It’s going to be a thick and juicy book.

ead the entire article here
Source: metropolis