McGinness Painting

Ryan McGinness: Studio Visit

A glimpse into the artist’s studio and the process for his VMFA commission

The creative process for Ryan McGinness’ 2009 commissioned painting Art History Is Not Linear (VMFA) is the focus of this inventive exhibition. This painting marked the first time that McGinness created an installation with site-specific imagery that directly links to a museum collection. The exhibition will be on view January 25 – October 19, 2014.

Commissioned by VMFA, the artist’s 16-panel painting contains 200 icons inspired by works from the museum’s collection. The project was funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts Fund for American Art. The 32-feet long work by this Virginia artist—born and raised in Virginia Beach; currently lives in New York City—is on permanent display in the museum’s entrance foyer. McGinness creates paintings, sculptures and environments by using the visual language of public signs, corporate logos and contemporary iconography. He says his work evolved from his interest in design, illustration and popular culture.

The artist develops his initial hand-drawn sketches into more finished drawings and then digitally scans them. Once these computer versions are complete, he regenerates them as silk-screens to be printed onto canvases, or, in the case of Art History Is Not Linear (VMFA), 16 acrylic-on-birch-plywood panels that are each 4 feet square. The overall painting is 8 x 32 feet.

Ryan McGinness: Studio Visit is a three-part exhibition: the first gallery provides a glimpse of McGinness’ studio practice, the second displays a selection of the objects McGinness chose from the museum’s collection alongside his sketches and final image, and the last portion features early works the artist made while growing up in Virginia Beach. The exhibition promises to engage a wide audience, and an exciting array of educational programs will encourage young viewers to seek out favorite works in the collection and actively participate in their own process of exploration and interpretation.

Artist Talk: Ryan McGinness
Thursday, February 27, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Leslie Cheek Theater
$8 (VMFA members $5)
Join Ryan McGinness for a conversation about his work, especially the making of Art History Is Not Linear (VMFA), the subject of Ryan McGinness: Studio Visit. Following the talk (7:30-8 p.m.), the artist will sign related products available in the VMFA Shop.

Teacher Workshop
Mash-Up: The World of Ryan McGinness
Thursday, January 30, 2014
4:30-7:30 p.m.
Conference Room and Galleries, $20 (VMFA members $18)
How do you combine 200 works of art into one? If you are Ryan McGinness, one of the leading figures in today’s contemporary art scene, you mash it up through symbols, screen prints, and philosophy to create Art History Is Not Linear. This workshop explores the process through which McGinness achieves this vibrant intersection of symbols, design, and visual culture. Includes a tour of Ryan McGinness: Studio Visit.

3 in 30 Gallery Talk: Outsourced
Tuesday, April 8, 11 a.m.
Thursday, April 10, 6:30 p.m.
Free, no registration required
Take a look at some of the sources for the symbols in Ryan McGinness’ Art History is Not Linear.

Young @ Art: Signs and Symbols
February 4, 11, 18, 25
Art Education Center
$10 per child/adult pair (VMFA members $8)
Signs and symbols are found everywhere—in our neighborhoods and even the VMFA galleries. Enjoy identifying symbols such as those found in works by Virginia artist Ryan McGinness.

Richmond Family Magazine
Kids Can-Do Lesson
February Issue
Artists often have used symbols, or elements that represent something else, in their artworks. Inspired by Ryan McGinness’ Art History is Not Linear, which draws its 200 symbols from artworks in the VMFA collection, you will create artwork complete with symbols of your own design. Explore the art of screen printing with this fun lesson written by a VMFA educator.

About the exhibition
TITLE: Ryan McGinness: Studio Visit
DATES: January 25 – October 19, 2014
CURATOR: John B. Ravenal, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
NUMBER OF WORKS: Approximately 50
PRODUCTS: A variety of products will be available in the VMFA shop, such as skateboards, t-shirts, calendars, a lenticular postcard, playing cards, stickers and buttons

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
VMFA’s permanent collection encompasses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. Its collections of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, English silver, Fabergé, and the art of South Asia are among the finest in the nation. With acclaimed holdings in American, British Sporting, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist, and Modern and Contemporary art – and additional strengths in African, Ancient, East Asian, and European – VMFA ranks as one of the top comprehensive art museums in the United States. Programs include educational activities and studio classes for all ages, plus lively after-hours events. VMFA’s Statewide Partnership program includes traveling exhibitions, artist and teacher workshops, and lectures across the Commonwealth. VMFA is open 365 days a year and general admission is always free. For additional information, telephone 804-340-1400 or visit