The Indelible Iconography of Ryan McGinness

Ryan McGinness with his Limited Edition Bottle of Hennessy, Courtesy PMG

 

In the past few years, Western culture seems to have reverted to pre-lingual tendencies with the proliferation of pictographic communication. “Love” is download (1), “anger” is 160x160x35-pouting-face.png.pagespeed.ic.w1f9t-wRwM, “celebration” is 160x160x325-party-popper.png.pagespeed.ic.nlB_GieQDx, “pride” is 160x160x307-rainbow.png.pagespeed.ic.LZQTRvUOJh. For artist Ryan McGinness, this is nothing new.

“There’s something authoritative about signs and icons, and I wanted to subvert that,” he said, nestled in a corner at midtown steakhouse Quality Meats.

For years, McGinness has produced painting, sculpture and site-specific work frequently utilizing bold icons and bright colors, most recently his series of “black hole” paintings, which he calls a “subversive symbol of wealth and luxury”, and which grace a new limited edition bottle of Hennessy. The series of elegant black holes are juxtaposed with colorful Boschian imagery of people fucking skulls and committing autoerotic asphyxiation. But since the brand wants to communicate aspirational aspects, obviously, the bottle design is light on skull fucking. There is a twist, though: the layered, multi-colored filigrees coalescing in a black hole illuminate under a blacklight. “It made sense in the club environment,” he said.

Where is the subversion in corporate collaborations, though? “I knew everyone would be scrutinizing, ‘What’s going on?’ I knew that I wanted to communicate with aspirational qualities, but I don’t really like doing this and doing that, being disingenuous. But I was like, “Alcohol? Perfect.”

 

Hennessy

Limited Edition Bottle of Hennessy, Courtesy PMG

 

He’s built a bridge between himself and the brand, making sense of the collaboration in a Warholian vein, which is to be expected given the impact the Pope of Pop has had on his career. A fan since he was a child, he studied at Carnegie Mellon (Warhol’s alma mater) and interned as a curatorial assistant at the Warhol Museum. But, as he’s worked in the same tradition of Pop Art, he’s seen Warhol’s true intentions be obfuscated as we progress past his time. “A lot of the sarcasm and satire have been lost in recent years,” he lamented.

McGinness still holds out some humor and irony in his work, though. His Instagram, for example, skewers the platform; instead of behind-the-scenes photos or filtered pictures of sunsets that typically litter newsfeeds, each image he posts is a black circle with a cryptic quote or design in the center. Each dot, in actuality, is part of a halftone that makes up a black and white image of McGinness removing a white fright wig. The act is a Warholian, anti-artifice gesture, a removal of a disguise. “Warhol was all about being fake – he wore a costume. But this is genuine.”

 

mcginness1

Untitled (Black Hole, Fluorescent Yellow), 2008, acrylic on linen, 72 in. dia. (182.9 cm dia.) exhibited with adhesive fluorescent vinyl on wall under black light via ryanmcginness.com

 

He’s also began work on a series of paintings inspired by metadata, wherein he depicts an original painting hanging on a studio wall. Similar to Thomas Struth’s photographs of paintings in museums, these meta-paintings are a new twist on authenticity and the reproduction of images.

When he needs a break from painting, he ventures across the street from his studio to Landmark Diner, one of the last remaining original diners in the city. A slice of down-to-earth Americana, it reflects the air of McGinness: not pretentious or haughty as is the typical demeanor of many artists (especially if they’re white, male and straight), friendly, warm and unobtrusively brilliant.

He chronicles his thoughts and ideas meticulously in a series of identical sketchbooks, and currently he’s up to over 200. “Ideas are stickier when you touch the piece of paper. I like making things.” It shows how personal his work really is, and what anyone would say about corporate collaborations, or how he’s not using Instagram correctly, doesn’t really matter to him in the end. He continued, looking down after taking a sip of Hennessy, “make work like nobody cares.”

Art Star Jeff Koons New H&M Bag Lands On Fifth Avenue

Jeff Koons and Julio Santo Domingo

When I first heard Jeff Koons was collaborating with retailer H&M I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Maybe some mylar-effect puffer jackets? A lobster print puffer jacket? A mylar/lobster print puffer jacket? Actually, Koons collaborated with H&M on a leather handbag printed with a photo of his famous balloon dog sculpture. The real sculpture will cost you over $50 million, but the bag costs just under $50. A real steal, and also a great solution for someone like me that can’t fit all my giant balloon dog sculptures in my tiny apartment. 

The launch party last night was held at H&M’s new 5th Avenue flagship. The crowd of guests included movie stars like Olivia Wilde and Ashley Benson along with art stars like Tim Barber and Jeanette Hayes. I tried to get a quote from Koons and Ashley, but when the time came I was quickly elbowed past by fashion writers more eager than myself, and suddenly not fast enough to reach them before fans bombarded them with requests for selfies. I gave up on the press pit and headed into the party a little disappointed that I didn’t get to ask Koons why he wasn’t carrying his own Koons bag like all the popular girls. I saw people buying as many as five of the purses, presumably to put the extras on eBay when they inevitably sell out, like H&M’s collabs in the past.

Beyond the chaos of the red carpet was a fun party with tiny fish tacos, a performance from teen cutie Birdy, some tipsy shopping, and crowding around Koons. While Koons sculptures have reflective surfaces that often make for a good #ARTSELFIE, the store’s mirrors provided for a new kind of #KOONSSELFIE in which the photographer/subject can now wear the Koons.

H&M x JEFF KOONS 5th Ave Flagship Event
Birdy

H&M x JEFF KOONS 5th Ave Flagship Event
Jeff Dorsman, Eric Zindorf

H&M x JEFF KOONS 5th Ave Flagship Event
Johannes Huebl

H&M x JEFF KOONS 5th Ave Flagship Event
Timo Weiland

H&M x JEFF KOONS 5th Ave Flagship Event
Olivia Wilde

H&M x JEFF KOONS 5th Ave Flagship Event
Lorenzo Martone

H&M x JEFF KOONS 5th Ave Flagship Event
Perez Hilton

H&M x JEFF KOONS 5th Ave Flagship Event
Nicky Hilton

H&M x JEFF KOONS 5th Ave Flagship Event
Cleo Wade, Margot

H&M x JEFF KOONS 5th Ave Flagship Event
June Ambrose

H&M x JEFF KOONS 5th Ave Flagship Event
Jeff Koons, Julio Santo Domingo

H&M x JEFF KOONS 5th Ave Flagship Event
Katie Schmidt, Marybeth Schmidt

H&M x JEFF KOONS 5th Ave Flagship Event
Donna D’Cruz

H&M x JEFF KOONS 5th Ave Flagship Event
Alek Wek

H&M x JEFF KOONS 5th Ave Flagship Event
Ryan McGinness

All photos courtesy of BFA/H&M

The BlackList: Weekly Events Dec. 2-8

Gallery hopping, film screening, concert-going, and partying: like always, we have what’s coming up, and this week, we’re going to Miami.

Monday, December 2

London: Marc Jacobs celebrates Kate Moss’ Playboy cover and the magazine’s 60th anniversary at the London store, 24-25 Mount Street, at 3 p.m.

Art Drive-Thru/Miami: Today through December 8, colette Paris heads to Miami with Alchemist, setting up an old school drive through (girls on roller skates and all) on level 5 of Herzog & Meuron’s parking structure. Order up a signed and numbered print , a beach towel, or a Rolex. Just don’t expect dollar menu pricing.

Paper Dreams/Miami: The Standard commissioned Luis Pons, a Miami designer, to float a paper and bamboo boat off the spa’s Lido Dock, offering some much needed calm for fair-goers. The smooth sailing installation pushes off with a cocktail reception from 5-7 p.m., remaining open through December 8.

Tuesday, December 3

Curiouser and curiouser/NYC: Maison Kitsuné hosts Le Cabinet de Curiosités of Thomas Erber at The Avant/Garde Diaries Project Space. The event’s fourth installment showcases California brand Parabellum, and touches down in NYC after making its way from colette in Paris, Brown’s in London, and Andreas Murkudis in Berlin. After this evening’s RSVP-only cocktails to celebrate the launch, the exhibition will be open at 372 Broome St. and Kitsune (1170 Broadway) through December 23, from 12:00 – 8:30 p.m.

NYC: BAM hosts Bodycast, a theatricalization of the “artist talk” with artist Suzanne Bocanegra and actor Fances McDormand, through December 7. Tickets $20

Wednesday, December 4

Sample sale/London: A sample sale worth the airfare – Nicholas Kirkwood will be 75% off today and tomorrow at 26 South Molton Lane, London.

Invite only/Miami: MoMA’s Chief Curator at Large and MoMA PS1’s Director Klaus Biesenbach is honored tonight by MEDIUM with the Curatorial Excellence Award. 7 – 9 p.m., The Standard Spa, Miami Beach.

BlackBook at Art Basel/Miami: BlackBook is excited to co-host our Art Basel event with LACMA and React to Film at the Delano, Miami Beach. There’ll be cocktails and a showing of three artist films celebrating the work of David Hockney, John Baldessari, and Ed Ruschka. RSVP@reactofilm.com

After the party it’s the after party/Miami: Interview and OHWOW get their party on to celebrate Art Basel Miami Beach on the rooftop of the Boulan, 2000 Collins Ave. RSVP interview@oh-wow.com

Sing it/Miami: André Sariava brings The Standard East’s karaoke club to The Rec Room at The Gale in Miami, 1685 Collins Ave. Open through December 7, from 11 p.m. until late early morning.

NYC: Women in Music will host a celebration (of what other than women in music) at Le Poisson Rouge with DJs Jackie Smiley, Cherie Lily, and Shannonigans. 7 p.m. Tickets $10

NYC: Nitehawk Cinema hosts a one night only screening of a newly restored Sidewalk Stories, 7:30 p.m. Tickets $15

NYC: Ozu and His Afterlives begins at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, showing films influenced by and of Yasujiro Ozu. Screenings through December 12.

NYC: Alvin Ailey’s American Dance Theatre company premieres Chroma, with choreography by Wayne McGregor, and sounds of orchestrations of The White Stripes. Performances begin today through January 2.

Thursday: December 5

Shopping break/Miami: SUNO celebrates the launch of their line for Miami’s prime shopping destination The Webster, 1220 Collins Avenue, from 3-5 p.m. RSVP to suno@bpcm.com

Invite only/Miami: Spike Jonze celebrates HER with a private dinner at The Standard, Miami Beach. 9:30 p.m.

NYC: To celebrate the anniversary of the end of prohibition, The Village Voice hosts a holiday spirits tasting event from 7:30-10:30 p.m. at Studio Square, 35-44 37th Street in Long Island City. Tickets from $50

Friday, December 6

Boozy brunch/invite only/Miami: Creative Time throws their second annual champagne brunch from 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. at The Standard Miami Beach.

Confessional/Miami: Glenn O’Brien celebrates the release of Penance, his latest book, with a live confessional at The Newsstand at The Standard Spa, Miami. From 5-7 p.m.

Win, Lose, or Draw/Miami: Let Ryan McGinness teach you how to draw. On the heels of his new sketchbook, the artist is hosting a drawing class at the Lido Lounge at the Standard Miami Beach.

Saturday, December 7

NYC: Nitehawk Cinema gets its Old West brunch on with an 11:30 a.m. screening of McCabe & Mrs. Miller, introduced with a live performance by Julie Christie and Warren Beatty. Tickets $16

NYC: Hop over to Milk Gallery for a book signing of Richard Corman’s Madonna from 4-6 p.m. 450 West 15th Street. RSVP here.

Sunday, December 8

NYC: The Museum of the Moving Image hosts a screening of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford with an introduction by the book’s author Ron Hansen. 7 p.m. Tickets $15

The Behinds Scene at Art Basel

Here’s a rear-view look at the movers and shakers of the most bootylicious art fair in the world, Art Basel in Miami, Florida. Your crack unit hit the convention center where the VIP asses of the art world were snapping up work at a robust clip. Not only were we able to document the asses of art world luminaries such as Larry Gagosian, Dasha Abramovich and Ryan McGinness, we also captured Hollywood badboy Adrien Brody’s art-perusing ass. Do those paint-splattered jeans make his ass look fat? You be the judge, after the jump.