Ryan McGinley’s seventh opening at Team Gallery was just like all the others: at any given moment, there were just as many people on Grand Street as in the gallery – a fact that did not go unnoticed by the uniformed and undercover cops who rolled by to tell the mob of downtown scenesters to clear the sidewalk and bike lane.
Those packed inside took to Instagram to make observations like “smells like gym class” and “subway at rush hour.” Others posted ussies with McGinley, the “Pied Piper of the Downtown Art World.”
Compared to the sweltering scene, the large-format photos on the walls were the polar (pun intended) opposite. They depicted nude models posing amidst landscapes of snow and ice that appeared to be in Antarctica but were actually upstate New York. As you might guess from the title of the show, “Winter,” McGinley shot the photos this past winter, in the state’s northern reaches.
The photos are in stark (nekkid) contrast to the work he did when he was holed up in the basement of Lit, snapping Polaroids of Dash Snow, Dan Colen, and others in his hard-partying crew. After all, it’s a good four and a half hours from hot toddies on Ludlow Street to the frozen waterfalls of Ludlowville Park. But these nudes-in-nature will be familiar to anyone who knows his more recent work.
Since clinching that solo show at the Whitney at the age of 25, McGinley, who turned 38 last month, has moved on to photographing “it” types like Petra Collins during the course of his annual summer trips across America. His subjects are often naked, in breathtakingly dramatic settings (think Richard Kern meets Terrence Malick).
For this show (and for a simultaneous Los Angeles show titled “Fall”), McGinley extended the summer road trip. The “Winter” photos – some as tall as 7.5 feet — find him venturing to locations far afield of his Canal Street studio, including Plotter Kill Nature Preserve in Schenectady County, Giant Mountain in the Adirondacks, Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskills, Minnewaska State Park in Ulster County, and Watkins Glen in the Finger Lakes.
The subjects sometimes look surreally at ease in their frigid surroundings (according to Team Gallery, ice-fishing tents, propane tanks, and rock-climbing gear were employed to pull off the shoots) and other times appear to be bloodied, scratched, and, well, just plain freezing their asses off. Some are barely even visible amidst the epic landscape. With the exception of a piece titled “Piss Falls,” which depicts a frozen yellow-ish cascade, all of the photos make you want to run to REI and hit up that nudist friend with the Vanagon.
Check out more of them here.
“Winter” through Dec. 20 at Team Gallery, 83 Grand St., Soho; open Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sundays, noon to 6pm.