Art History Is Not Linear (VMFA) (Primary Title)

Ryan McGinness, American, born 1972 (Artist)

acrylic on panels
United States
Overall: 8 × 32 ft. (243.83 × 975.31 cm)
Image: 4 × 4 ft. (121.91 × 121.91 cm)

"Art history is not linear; although it is often taught as such. Culture is a multidimensional network that feeds and builds upon itself in a mash up that transcends time." —Ryan McGinness

Born and raised in Virginia Beach and now based in NewYork, McGinness is internationally known for his exuberant marriage of abstraction and representation. His early interest in design, illustration, and popular culture led to a flat, clean-edged style of bold logolike images. He refers to his images as icons, a nod to his interest in merging corporate culture and fine art.

This multipart painting was commissioned specifically for its current location. Its two hundred icons are based on works in VMFA’s collection, which McGinness studied over several years through direct observation, book research, and visits to the museum’s Web site. McGinness reinterpreted the works through a process of hand drawing and computer design, producing a repertoire of new representational icons. With intuition as his guide, he then collaged the new images using the silkscreen-printing process to create a set of vibrant, densely layered paintings that together serve as an introduction to the museum‘s holdings.

National Endowment for the Arts Fund for American Art
©artist or artist’s estate

Studio Visit with Ryan McGinness

"Ryan McGinness: Studio Visit" explores this contemporary artist's creative process for his 2009 painting "Art History Is Not Linear (VMFA)". Commissioned by VMFA, this 16-panel painting contains 200 icons inspired by works from the museum's collection.

Ryan McGinness @ VMFA

Contemporary artist Ryan McGinness discusses his process in this artist talk at VMFA. He explores his inspiration, symbols in the collection, and authenticity.

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.