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  • Ryan McGinley Photographs 1999-2015. Photo by Mike Bink

  • Ryan McGinley, Jake (Cannes), 2005, 48 x 72 cm

  • Ryan McGinley Photographs 1999-2015. Photo by Mike Bink

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Ryan McGinley’s “Photographs 1999-2015” exhibition at Kunsthal KAde, Amersfoort

The Kunsthal KAde Museum in Amersfoort, The Netherlands, dedicates a retrospective to American photographer Ryan McGinley, featuring more than 80 works that span his entire career. Titled “Photographs 1999-2015”, the exhibition starts with McGinley’s early works from late 90’s, depicting the graffiti, skateboard and art scene of the East Village, New York. McGinley, who was studying at the time at Parsons School of Design, started timidly to document the underground youth culture he was part of and the crazy nights out with his friends, publishing his work in self-edited fanzines. What meant to have a tremendous influence on his work was a road trip to Vermont in 2003, accompanied by a gang of bohemian friends. McGinley portrayed them naked and carefree in a series of idyllic rural landscapes, elegantly combining nudity, youth and nature, which eventually became his trademark style: Polaroid-like photos that were both staged and spontaneous, opening a gate to a fantasy world that merged dreams and reality.

The road trip to Vermont was followed by numerous summer trips between 2005 and 2010, travelling in vans with friends and models all over the United States. The exhibition features a large selection of these very photos, including the famous “Moonmilk” series that were shot in various underground caves and were inspired by the books of Jules Verne and Mark Twain. For Moonmilk, McGinley placed his nude subjects against spectacular cavernous spaces that were illuminated with psychedelic colored lights, creating a series of whimsical images, full of movement and vitality. As the artist explained in his same-titled photography book, the title of these series alluded to the crystalline deposits found on the walls of many caves, which were once believed to be formed by light from celestial bodies passing through rock into darkened worlds below.

Also on view is a variety of studio photos, many of them depicting naked models against colorful backgrounds and in the company of wild animals. The photos are displayed in the form of an impressive large-scale installation, titled “Yearbook”, which occupies an entire wall at Kunsthal KAde. Last, but not least, the exhibition includes two special sections that feature a projection of Sigur Ros’s music video Varúð, directed by Ryan McGinley, and a series of behind the scenes shots, offering visitors the chance to get immersed into the poetic world of the celebrated photographer. “Ryan McGinley’s photographs make you believe that paradise could also exist on Earth – with a freedom going beyond all physical boundaries; an intellectual, emotional and corporeal freedom,” said Nanda van den Berg, Director of the Huis Marseille Museum for photography in Amsterdam that loaned photos for the exhibition. “Photographs 1999-2015” will remain on view until August 30, 2015, at Kunsthal KAde, Eemplein 77, 3812 EA Amersfoort, The Netherlands.

Life is just more exciting with a camera in my hand. Taking pictures feels right, more right than anything else in life. I have to respect and honor the insanity of it all. Photography is where we live. I’m going if you’re going. This is the road trip. This is how we do it. Join the circus and run away from home. The journey is the destination.Ryan McGinley, Purple Fashion No. 19, 2013.