Team Gallery, ‘Grids’, 2012
Team is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by New York-based artist Ryan McGinley. Entitled Grids, the exhibition will run from 02 May through 02 June, 2012. Team Gallery is located at 47 Wooster Street, between Broome and Grand, on the ground floor. Concurrently, our 83 Grand Street space will house Animals, an additional solo show by McGinley culled from an entirely different body of work. This marks the first time a single artist has had simultaneous shows in both of our spaces.
This exhibition consists of three huge grids of individual portraits of fans at concerts. Over the past four years, Ryan McGinley has photographed faces in the crowd at a number of large outdoor music festivals across the United States and in Europe. These recurring events run for two or three days and feature a relatively wide variety of artists. McGinley and the members of his crew — each of whom has been given explicit instruction — spend their days from noon until well past midnight attending performances, shooting the fans from myriad vantage points, afterwards camping overnight on the fairgrounds. In this way, they become deeply involved observers, both physically and emotionally immersed in the throng while still maintaining a certain sense of removal. The resulting images show ecstatic faces awash with colored light, each larger than life size.
Many of the pictures are dominated by a single color, a result not of post-production editing but rather the stages’ differently colored lights. The vivid tones further the individual images’ strong emotional tenors, earnest and heart-felt, but never melodramatic. The calculated arrangement of the photographs allows the colors to interact with each other, leading the viewer’s eye up, down, and across the grids which sometimes stretch across as much as twenty five feet of space. It might be possible to view and appreciate these works as color studies, were it not for the emphatic vivacity of their subjects. When these photos are produced and arranged as such, the effect is of a youthful sublime.
Grids displays McGinley’s own significant relationship to rock, specifically the experience of live music. His subjects are visibly entranced by the performances of their favorite bands, looking beyond the camera toward the stage, oftentimes altogether unaware of the artist. In most of the pictures, the face occupies the bulk of the photo’s frame. Though similar in their intensity, their individual expressions convey a wide variety of emotions, ranging from blissful to darkly contemplative. McGinley’s own fandom is apparent: he has no doubt found himself in such states of rapture. Since early adolescence, he has been very actively involved in the rituals of popular culture, chief among them the community forming at the core of concert attendance. The grids, all titled You and my Friends, speak to this sense of momentary collective friendship, absorbing and enfolding the viewer into the artist’s own constructed audience.
These works build upon McGinley’s repetoire of concert photography, which began with Irregular Regulars, his first show at Team in 2007. For that exhibition, he followed the musician Morrissey as he toured the United States, the U.K., and Mexico. With the grids, he continues to experiment with the genre of rock photography. Adopting a rigorous working practice, one which allows for tremendous subtlety, McGinley turns the viewer’s attention away from the performer altogether and directly and exclusively toward the fans. The artist cites, as inspiration for this shift, the depiction of concertgoers in the 1958 documentary Jazz on a Summer’s Day.
McGinley’s photographs are included in the collections of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., and many others. The 34 year-old artist has had solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of Art and at MoMA PS1 in New York, at the MUSAC in Spain, and at the Kunsthalle Vienna. Last year McGinley had solo shows in London and Amsterdam. Earlier this year a monograph on his work was released by Twin Palms Press. May 2012 will also see the release of a long-awaited book surveying his career from 1999 through the present. Published by Rizzoli, the book contains essays by Chris Kraus and John Kelsey, as well as an interview with Gus Van Sant.