McGinley, a New Jersey native and the youngest child of eight, set the art scene alight in 1999 with his handmade photo-book from his first public show, “The Kids Are Alright,” a brilliant portrayal of his own set of friends in New York at that particular time. He quickly emerged as the voice of a generation and worked on high-profile projects for several fashion brands and other commercial outfits. His work, which documented the likes of Snow and Dan Colen, was provocative and daring, and according to the men’s lifestyle magazine GQ, McGinley became “the most important photographer in America.”
Ryan McGinley: Body Loud!” at Tokyo Opera City Gallery, is a set piece of mainly nude portraits of McGinley’s very hip friends, including some Japan-based subjects such as actress and model Rila Fukushima and blogger and photographer Cailin Hill Araki. The exhibition kicks off with portraits of a naive looking and tattooed Snow and a drug-addled, graffitied Dan Colen. Both images are striking and provoke the audience with their unabashed honesty.
The “Yearbook” series, a wall of nude portraits, is so tedious, however, it’s questionable why it’s included in the show. The scale is immense but the result is insipid.