The figures in artist Ryan McGinness’ “Women” series are flattened, graphic shapes, calling to mind both a Matisse painting and public signage, compelling in bold color and broad strokes.
“His work is exploring contemporary culture in a really compelling way, drawing on advertising and different kinds of visual iconography that we’re surrounded by, from both fine art and consumer culture,” says 21C Museum Hotel curator Alice Gray Stites.
McGinness will give a lecture on his work with slides at 21C Museum Hotel Friday at 6:30 p.m. The talk, presented in collaboration with Land of Tomorrow gallery, is free and open to the public.
McGinness’ lecture is part of an ongoing series of artists the museum has hosted to talk about their work this year. It’s the second event 21C has hosted with Land of Tomorrow.
“We’ve found the response in the community to be very strong,” says Stites. “People are interested not only in seeing contemporary art but learning about the artists and their ideas.”
The acclaimed artist’s paintings, sculptures and performances are collected worldwide, from Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Charles Saatchi Collection in London to Tokyo’s Museum of Contemporary Art and the Amore Pacific Museum in Seoul. The “Women” series is being shown in different parts around the country over next few months.
Stites says McGinness’ ability to subvert the expected consumerist response to corporate design is a strength of his work.
“When we look at his work and say, it looks like a logo but it’s been transformed into something else, or, that’s a logo for something that doesn’t exist, instead of a logo being used to promote the value of a product you buy, McGinness’s work is about the thing itself, it doesn’t represent anything.,” says Stites. “And in that way, it’s almost a kind of minimalist work.”
His visit coincides with an exhibit in 21C’s restaurant, Proof on Main, titled “Consuming Cultures: a Global View,” which is part of the museum’s ongoing artistic dialogue on aesthetic and economic value.
“Artists help us to pay different kinds of attention to the things we take for granted or don’t question. We don’t question the fact that we do recognize the Nike symbol or the McDonald’s sign or Coca-Cola from a very young age,” says Stites.
“The fact that that’s incorporated, almost embedded, into your consciousness from childhood is training us to be indiscriminate consumers in a material world whose success is sometimes premised on that visual language,” she added.