Ryan McGinley: The Kids Were Alright

Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO March 15th, 2017

  • MCA Denver
  • MCA Denver

Ryan McGinley: The Kids Were Alright

February 11, 2017 to August 20, 2017

Dan Colen

Dan Colen
Secrets and Cymbals, Smoke and Scissors (My Friend Dash’s Wall in the Future), 2004-06
Styrofoam, oil paint, paper and metal
106 x 113 x 6 inches

Press Release:

Ryan McGinley: The Kids Were Alright will feature early photographs by McGinley, whose pioneering, documentary-style approach captured the antics and daily activities of himself, his friends, and collaborators in lower Manhattan in the late 1990s.

Occupying the entire second level of MCA Denver, the exhibition focuses on McGinley’s work from 1998 to 2003, from his earliest forays into photography to his rise to national prominence. The photographs present intimate moments of both exhilaration and introspection, often within a mundane setting, and demonstrate a sweeping range of emotions. McGinley’s works capture the essence of his lifestyle at the time: gritty, daring, and focused on moments of both pleasure and tedium, as well as illicit activities. Unstaged and unedited, McGinley’s use of light imbues all of the works with an intensity and profound emotional depth. They may depict a figure as brooding and contemplative or bursting with joyful exuberance. McGinley’s photos and Polaroids continually elevate these everyday moments and allow them to pulsate with life.

A rare instance of the artist re-examining his earliest major body of work, which was titled The Kids Are Alright, the exhibition at MCA Denver features many never-before-printed images. Additionally, over 1500 of McGinley’s Polaroids, which have never before been exhibited, will wrap the museum’s second floor. For this series, he documented nearly every visitor to his home and studio over the course of four years.

Works by Dash Snow and Dan Colen, two of McGinley’s closest collaborators during this early period, complete the exhibition.

Ryan McGinley: The Kids Were Alright is on view from February 11, 2017 to August 20, 2017. The exhibition is curated by Nora Burnett Abrams. Join us for the opening celebration on February 10, 6PM-MIDNIGHT.

Ryan McGinley (born 1977, Ramsey, NJ) earned a BFA in graphic design from Parsons School of Design in 2000. The year prior to his graduation from Parsons, McGinley self-published a book titled The Kids Are Alright, which earned him the attention of New York’s art scene. Since then, McGinley’s photographs have been shown at institutions around the world, including MoMA PS1, New York; the National Portrait Gallery, London; Kunsthalle, Vienna; and MACRO, Rome. In 2003, when he was 25, McGinley was the youngest artist to have a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. His work is in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. He is represented by Team Gallery, New York; Ratio 3 Gallery, San Francisco; and Galerie Perrotin, Paris.