Ryan McGinley Latest Artist to Be Hit With Copyright Suit

July 12, 2011 · Print This Article

Ryan McGinley is the latest artist to be hit with a copyright lawsuit, Rachel Corbett reports in Artnet. Janine Gordon, aka Jah Jah, an artist and rapper who was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial is suing McGinley, along with Levi Straus & Co. Inc., Jose Freire, Team Gallery Inc., Agnes B. Worldwide, Inc., and Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art. Gordon claims that for the past decade McGinley has been infringing on her work, which focuses on “risk-taking & thrill-seeking in various subcultural factions in society,” and takes the form of various media, including photography. Gordon is seeking $30,000 per infringement. In 2005 Janine Gordon also sued Dr. Dre and 50 Cent for copyright infringement, claiming that her songs  “Poppin’ At Da Club,” “Hardcore” and “Crazy Dreams,” among others – were used without her permission on 50 Cent’s album “The Massacre.”

Click on over to Artnet to take a look at the photographs that Gordon claims McGinley copied and judge for yourselves, although to me the comparison itself seems irrelevant. But beyond it’s reportage, Corbett’s article is a fun read for bits like this one:

McGinley’s guilt was compounded, at least in Gordon’s mind, in 2003, when she ran into him at a PS1 opening and he responded with “a fearful gasp and speedy retreat into the crowd,” according to the complaint.

Hee. Or this quote from Gordon:

“This is an art world travesty, when artists can freely steal from another artist for 10 years and be praised, paid and dance in the sun all day,” Gordon said in an email to Artnet News, adding that her prints go for $5,000 while those of her younger, more successful counterpart might go for $20,000.”

It’s that “dance in the sun all day” jab that’ll keep me laughing for the rest of the day.

Regardless, Gordon’s claims seem pretty specious. Seriously, can you really claim to hold copyright on the idea of bodies flying gracefully through the air? Much as I’d love to see a moratorium placed on such imagery, this is obviously not the way to go about it. Looks like Richard Prince’s loss may be the gain of artists like Gordon, and everyone’s lawyers, of course.

Janine Gordon, The Real Deal. From the "Stunts" series.

The Battle of Trafalgar Square Continues

July 23, 2010 · Print This Article

Yinka Shonibare Nelson Trafalgar PlinthThe fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar square has been on our radar for a while and I am sure will continue to be so since the British government plans on using it as a compliment to the Turner prize or so by using it as a soapbox to debate and showcase contemporary art.

The current work  that is on display at the plinth, Yinka Shonibare’s Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle is slotted to be taken down in 2012 and the fight to see who gets the spot in time for the Olympics has begun. Here is a quick rundown of the shortlist via UK’s The Independent (my money is on Katharina Fritsch) :

Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset A sombre wit underpins the serious nature of work by the Scandanavian couple who have collaborated since they met in 1995. They have made work in memory of gay victims of the Nazi regime and, in 2005, they built a Prada boutique in the middle of the Texan desert. Whatever their proposal for Trafalgar Square, we hope they don’t lose their sense of humour.

Mariele Neudecker German born, 45-year-old Neudecker made her name with sculptures of landscapes, placed inside glass vitrines. Self-contained worlds, that come out of the Romantic tradition in art – although her work is anything but traditional. She used the cry of seagulls on London’s Millenium bridge in 2008. And she sank a boat and a house underwater that question our relationship with the environment.

Allora & Calzadilla Allora and Calzadilla are an artist couple who live in Puerto Rico. Their work is usually political and they have a strong reputation in the UK. At the Serpentine gallery in 2007 they made a large chamber, like a war bunker, and inside musicians played military music. They work in many mediums, using film, sound, sculpture, performance and photography.

Hew Locke Locke’s work explores colonial themes in an exuberant kind of pop art. He has played with ideas about the British royal family. Princess Diana became a voodoo doll and he covered a figure of the Queen Mother with skulls. He critiques the past, looking at how our world interrelates: from African wars to empire, pop culture to Shakespeare.

Katharina Fritsch Like the Surrealists, Fritsch is known for artwork that makes the familiar appear strange and uncanny. Born in Germany, Fritsch has represented her country at the Venice Biennale and had major exhibitions at London museums. Giant rats and monochrome men wearing suits appear in her work, which have popular as well as critical appeal. She is a mature artist and her proposal will be polished and spectacular.

Brian Griffiths An eccentric sense of adventure runs through sculptures by Griffiths. A graduate of Goldsmiths college, the British artist has used old furniture to construct an elaborate wooden gyspy caravan. His work plays with myth as well as history and his sculpture comes from an imaginary world as fantastical as a child’s. No doubt, his proposal for the Fourth Plinth will be made from old junk but his idea, we hope, will contain a touch of magic.

  • Also Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA) has been greenlit to start construction on it’s $150-plus million development project in University Circle later this year and be completed in 2012. Read More Here
  • We talked a while back about the Guggenheim’s Youtube partnership entitled “Play” where artists were invited to submit their videos to possibly be part of a juried exhibition later this year in every one of their museums. Well that jury list has been announced: Takashi Murakami, Ryan McGinley, Douglas Gordon, Marilyn Minter and Shirin Neshat, artists known for their work in a variety of mediums; Stefan Sagmeister, a graphic designer; Laurie Anderson, the performance artist, musician and filmmaker; the music group Animal Collective; and the filmmakers Darren Aronofsky and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Read More Here
  • Sorry but I have a hard time calling something revolutionary or defying categorization when it’s been done for over two decades in general and over a decade by Michigan Avenue Ad houses. Its akin to saying an artist doing Matrix style bullet time video leaves you speechless if it was done in 2040. Film is sequential still frames that create motion, find something to write about NPR that is actually Art if you want to be breathless NPR not a music video esque work done in After Effects. It’s only slightly annoying when Artists speak of their work as revolutionary, interdisciplinary or an exciting hybrid that redefines a genre since it’s hard to promote as a artist but it is greatly annoying when a publication ruberstamps such hyperbole as true. I know it’s the NPR blog but….. still. Don’t Read More Here

All the Naked Spelunking You Can Handle

August 26, 2009 · Print This Article

Ryan McGinley, Moonmilk

Ryan McGinley, Moonmilk

Ryan McGinley will exhibit a new series of photographs titled Moonmilk next month at Alison Jacques Gallery in London. McGinley and a group of models/friends/collaborators went cave exploring aka spelunking in the nude (nudity is an essential aspect of McGinley’s approach to picture-making, so there’s nothing unusual about this aspect of the work). The resulting images are breathtakingly beautiful–Edenic, even, despite the underground setting–each of them classic McGinley in their portrayal of timeless youth, freedom and, importantly, in their emphasis on adventure. Indeed, when McGinley was interviewed by Bad At Sports, he spoke of the enduring influence of children’s books on his work, particularly those that feature brave young kids setting out to explore the unknown. (I’ve always loved those types of books, too; the Wizard of Oz series by L. Frank Baum being my all-time favorites–I still read them before going to sleep when I’m going through a particularly stressful time in my life).

Images from the Moonmilk series have been ping ponging around the Internet lately, and when I saw them I was immediately reminded of Miru Kim’s ongoing forays into various subterranean systems, including the Paris catacombs and the New York city subway. Kim’s images feature her own nude body as the lone figure in these landscapes. Usually, though not always, Kim goes into these places entirely on her own, without the use of an assistant.

McGinley’s photographs are more artfully composed than Kim’s are, more mysterious and more expansive in their evocation of a hidden world waiting to be explored. Overall, they’re just more “More.” Kim portrays little about these cryptic worlds as being magical, even when she’s posing in front of a modern-day “cave painting” of a starry night sky (one that’s most likely been painted by an otherwise homeless underground denizen). Instead, she’s interested in physically exploring an urban unconscious whose decrepit inhabitants and landscape have been “deleted,” as she’s put it, or otherwise repressed, like the scary monsters of childhood. Kim herself looks like a frightened animal in a lot of her shots: body crouched, clinging awkwardly against the wall as she painstakingly navigates these treacherous spaces.

The reasons why McGinley chooses to photograph his models nude is fairly obvious, given his overarching areas of interest; but Kim’s choice to represent herself this way is more puzzling and problematic. In interviews she’s explained that her use of nudity is an attempt to make her image less time and culture-specific, but that kind of logic doesn’t really hold up given the loaded ways in which we already view the female nude in photography and elsewhere. For me, her decision to pose nude only makes sense when the photographs are viewed as a kind of performative image-making à la the work of Ana Mendieta.

Despite their shortcomings, there is something deeply powerful about Kim’s underground explorations that makes them more provocative and ultimately of greater interest to me than McGinley’s undeniably lovely ones. For one thing, there’s an actual story behind each of Kim’s images to be unearthed in the history of the place she’s temporarily inhabiting. McGinley’s are suggestive in regards to narrative, but their impact is largely mythic and iconic in nature. They’re about FREEDOM, ADVENTURE and BEAUTY as they apply to those slim-limbed Caucasian twentysomethings who still have the time to travel around with and participate in McGinley’s undoubtedly life-affirming projects. But even more compelling is the matter of the sheer guts it takes for a woman (or anyone, really) to explore such places on her own, never mind the nude part.

McGinley’s photographs do inspire a certain sense of yearning, but for me, that desire feels uncomfortably similar to the kind that makes me want to go out and buy stuff to make my life (and me) look better. It’s a desire that will always be unfulfilled. Kim’s photographs, despite their sometimes clumsy literalism, make me think about the truly mind-expanding things that can happen when a shy young woman chooses to go out adventuring all on her own, into exactly those types of deep, dark, fairytale-type places that everyone is always telling you not to go into, or else.

Or else what?

Listen to Ryan McGinley interviewed by Brian and Patricia on Episode 141 of the Podcast. Miru Kim gives a talk on her “underground art” on the web video channel TED here.


Ryan McGinley, Moonmilk


Ryan McGinley, Moonmilk