McGinness’s work consists of an amalgam of icons and symbols. Drawing from his background in the design industry, Ryan McGinness’s work resolves the clinical graphic aesthetics of media as vast, contemplative fields of intimate meditation. It incorporates strong social commentary on iconography, language, and historical and contemporary symbolism. His graphic drawings and personal iconography are replicated, re-contextualized, and materialized infinitely throughout his densely-layered paintings. His works are in the permanent public collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Cincinnati Art Museum, MUSAC in Spain, and the Misumi Collection in Japan.
“I’m trying to communicate complex and poetic concepts with a cold, graphic, and authoritative visual vocabulary. I concentrate on shape, line, color, and composition to communicate within simplified picture planes. As such, the work resides somewhere between abstraction and representation.
At the essence of our being is the need to know and the need to understand. I am interested in our need to read into and interpret—to make sense of chaos and give meaning to seemingly abstract forms. This interpretation involves an egocentric faith in the fact that there must be a meaning for us to understand. We surrender our logic to the belief that answers do indeed exist, and so, by default, we invent them. With my work, interpretations are not absolute, but guided, to allow for multiple reads. This allows the viewer to bring to the work his own history, memories, and knowledge to find a personalized meaning.”
— Ryan McGinness, 2005
“In the past decade, McGinness has become an art star, thanks to his Warholian mix of pop iconography and silk-screening.”—New York Times
“An unusual marriage of abstraction and representation. McGinness’ slick, colorful paintings consist of layers of images tidily clustered into baroque compositions.”—Art News
“McGinness has mastered and integrated a seemingly infinite variety of visual languages, producing works that inhabit the ever-blurred border between high art and popular illustration.”—Art Forum