Ryan McGinley’s work has long reflected the wonder of youth, his portraits of untamed beauty evoking a nostalgic innocence, regardless of the viewer’s age. In Way Far, his second book published by Rizzoli, McGinley gathers recent images from the annual summer cross-country road trips he’s taken since the start of his career, packing 30 college-age kids in a bus and setting out to explore the wilderness and make photographs. The photos in the book are a mix of recent portraits, landscapes and environmental portraits. His subjects are all young, beautiful and nude. Some of his subjects, like Petra Collins, are artists in their own right. Many sport tattooed skin, pierced parts and asymmetrical haircuts, and they climb trees, shoot fireworks, and run through fields of grain. McGinley has been known to show the grit and cuts and blood that tend to accompany being naked in the wilderness, but they’re mostly absent from this book, helping maintain the illusion he is moving and photographing in a dream state.
David Rimanelli, a writer and editor who has covered art for Artforum, Interview and The New Yorker, wrote the foreword. Rimanelli draws lines of influence between McGinley’s romantic imagery and the work of such disparate artists as pre-Raphaelite painter John William Waterhouse, pictorialist photographer Robert Demachy, and Rihanna. While McGinley is now more than a decade removed from the solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art that made him a star, his work—and his subjects—remain as youthful as ever.
— Matthew Ismael Ruiz