Monday, February 8, 2010

Ryan McGinley and Aaron Siskind

While I realize many of you read the New York Times as regularly as we do, the Ryan McGinley photo essay in the past weekend's New York Times Magazine (here) seems worthy of a short discussion. For those of you who haven't seen the pictures, there are eleven color images of Winter Olympic athletes, outfitted in designer clothing (lots of wispy strips of fabric) and soaring through the air (as required by their various sports) against soft, pastel skies.

For photography collectors, these works will be immediately reminiscent of Aaron Siskind's Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation from the 1950s. McGinley has however traded Siskind's pared down, abstracted black and white silhouettes for unabashedly dreamy and romantic views. He has also expanded the scope of the pictures to include more sky, making the often graceful flying look even more precarious and unlikely. While not every picture in this series works for me, if these commissioned images are ever turned into artworks, I hope they are printed at monumental scale to cover a whole wall, the contrast between small figure and huge ground amplifying the peaceful bliss of floating.

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