Naked & Famous–GQ sits down with photographer Ryan McGinley for its April issue. Alice Gregory talks to the esteemed photographer about coming out, shooting nudity, entertainment and even goes as far as to call him the most important photographer in America.
McGinley on his photography:
“It’s no longer interesting for me to wait for things to happen. I want to ask people to do things.”
“Everyone thinks we’re making a porno. We usually don’t run into people, but when we do they’re like, ‘You’re making a porno, aren’t you? C’mon, you can tell me!’ ”
McGinley on coming out as gay:
“It was hard telling my family, because their only reference for gay people was my brother and his friends, and they all died of AIDS. Every last one of them. When I told my mom, I just knew how much she’d worry about me.”
McGinley on New York:
“I really don’t like when people say, ‘New York is boring now. New York isn’t like it used to be.’ I hate that. It’s one of my pet peeves. No, motherfucker, you’re boring! You’re not like you used to be.”
McGinley on his art having an impact on Jay Z’s “Young Forever” video:
“Now, that’s exciting. When somebody makes something—something that’s on such a mass level—that’s influenced by your work. And they don’t even know it.”
Gregory on McGinley’s art:
“His early work—including the majority of what was shown at the Whitney, when, at 25, he became the youngest artist in thirty years with a solo show—was documentary, pictures he now refers to as ‘evidence of fun.’ There are black eyes, bloody noses, obviously stoned girls, tattooed guys lying supine on linoleum floors, naked friends piled into a bathtub, wet hair plastered to one another.”
“His photographs of the past ten years, however, are more ambitious, more formally complex, and more expensive to produce—if just as suspiciously savvy. They’re the result of studio shoots like this one or, more often, of costly and complicated road trips across America. The models spelunk in Technicolor caves, do flips off barn roofs, trudge through mud, run through fields with sparklers, climb waterfalls, hang from trees, zip-line, play tag, and leapfrog over one another.”
“It’s a picture of seemingly wholesome activity made melancholy by diffused lighting, dreamy filters, and props from the indeterminate past; it looks a lot like what you see on Instagram, plus nudity.”
“There truly is a magic to McGinley’s photographs, and while you can be resentful of the tricks, there is no denying that the illusion is impressive.”
Read more at GQ.com.