Photographer Ryan McGinley: 'I Was Taught to Believe in Satan. It Scared Me'

By Tom Seymour
El Camino, 2020. Photograph: Courtesy of Ryan McGinley
Before he shot Brad Pitt and Beyoncé, McGinley captured the ‘like-minded weirdos’ he met in New York’s wildest gay bars. As a rare retrospective opens, he talks about those days – and going to church with his mum. It might not seem to square with his reputation, but faith has played a huge part in Ryan McGinley’s work. He was taught religious art at school in New Jersey and remembers staring at The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo’s depiction of God giving life to the first man, in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo’s worship of the human body is reflected in McGinley’s searing portraits of the “like-minded weirdos” he has met over two decades of life in Manhattan, which comprise the exhibition Pretty Free – originally due to be on show at London’s Marlborough Gallery this month, but now accessible online. [More]
Installation View. Photo: Luke Walker.