Never-Before-Seen Photos Capture The Intensity Of 90s American Youth


Pioneering American documentary photographer Ryan McGinley has a brand new exhibition opening this month. Taking place at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the event has been dubbed Ryan McGinley: The Kids Were Alright and features never-before-seen work.

The exhibit features snapshots captured by the photographer between 1998 to 2003 displayed in a series of photographs and 1500 polaroids. The event will further take viewers through the formative years of the New Jersey-born photographer, offering a peek into his and his friend's antics and the scenes which transpired in their youth.

(Photo: "Having Sex (Polaroids)," 1999. C-print, 30 x 40 inches, Ryan McGinley)

(Photo: "Dan (Bloody Eye)," 2002. C-print, 45 x 30 inches, Ryan McGinley)

Late last year, McGinley spoke with Interview Magazine about this era of his work. He explained:

"From '99 to '03, basically until my first show at the Whitney, I was out every single night, and I would shoot, like, ten rolls a night. And the Yashica was so perfect because it was so small, it would just go in my pocket.

I didn't have to be the photographer with the camera around his neck. I would throw a few rolls in my socks and go out and just shoot."

Celebrated widely as one of the pioneering documentary photographers of the 90s era, McGinley's photos have become a poignant reflection of the American youth subculture and its most prominent characters of the Y2K generation.

Unstaged and unedited, McGinley’s photos depict sexual exploration, melancholy, rage, sensitivity, aggression and vulnerability found almost exclusively in the contemplative years following puberty, but before adulthood, in that hazy and emotional gray area we call youth.

(Photo: "Red Mirror," 1999. C-print, 45 x 30 inches, Ryan McGinley)

(Photo: "Self Portrait Bathroom," 2000. C-print, 16 x 24 inches, Ryan McGinley)

Using reality coupled with 35mm film and available light, Mcginley's photos are imbued with a sense of authenticity recognized worldwide.

At age 25, he became one of the youngest artists to hold a solo exhibition at New York's prestigious Whitney Museum of American Art; he was named Photographer of the Year that same year by American Photo Magazine.

Exhibited continuously around the world since his first major solo exhibition, McGinley's formative snapshots of American youth culture have been used as a sounding board and displayed internationally; his most recent exhibitions having taken place in Australia, The Netherlands, Italy and Japan.

Focusing on bringing his raw authenticity and candidly captured moments to the American mid-east, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver will present Ryan McGinley's latest exhibition of never-before-seen works until August 20, 2017.

(Photo: "Fireworks," 2002. C-print, 40 x 30 inches, Ryan McGinley)

(Photo: Ryan McGinley)

(Photo: "Dan Dusted, 2002." C-print. 40 x 30 inches, Ryan McGinley)

(Photo: "Cum," 1999. C-print, 30 x 40 inches, Ryan McGinley)

(Photo: Ryan McGinley)

(Photo: Ryan McGinley)

(Photo: Ryan McGinley)

(Photo: Ryan McGinley)

(Photo: Ryan McGinley)

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