Ryan McGinley is without a doubt the defining photographer of this generation. His forthcoming monograph, Ryan McGinley: Whistle for the Wind, solidifies his impact in art and culture. The photographs are complemented by essays from John Kelsey and Chris Kraus, as well as an engaging interview by Gus Van Sant. Put simply, the book is the essential journey through McGinley’s art thus far.

McGinley's become known for expertly documenting youth culture in a way that has brought attention to his own youth. He’s still the youngest artist to have had a solo show at the Whitney. At 25, he was named Photographer of the Year by American Photo Magazine, and at 29, he received the Young Photographer Infinity Award by the International Center of Photography.

It’s inspiring but also slightly ironic that he’s become so overwhelmingly successful and recognized. It comes down to skillful treading of high/low and underground/overground that the art world enjoys endlessly. McGinley has made a career from photographing the outcasts, the misfits, and the marginalized, even doing so in a way that intentionally situates them from their original environments—in meadows, caves, woods, lakes, and sand dunes far from urbanity. However, his ability to distinctly capture their youthfulness and liberation is at the core of McGinley's success.

“Suddenly, my life was very public. A lot of people still say they like my early stuff the best. I’m always a bit taken aback.” McGinley says, in the book’s interview with Gus Van Sant, responding to his whirlwind fame. “When I was younger I definitely felt like I was outside of society. I’d like to think that I still am. And I’m attracted to people like that—the people I cast in my photographs have those qualities.”

Credit: Ryan McGinley, from Ryan McGinley: Whistle for the Wind, Rizzoli New York, 2012.

Book Signings in NYC: June 27, 2012 at The Strand from 7pm to 8pm in their Rare Book Room and June 28, 2012 at 7:30pm at Spoonbill & Sugartown.

Tags: ryan-mcginley, required-reading, art-watch
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