Ryan McGinley and Gus van Sant
Ever wanted to hear Ryan McGinely and Gus van Sant have a conversation? Well, here it is. Two artists synonymous with the depiction of youth, hedonism and unconventional beauty.
RM: What do you think it is about youth that you keep coming back to? My friend always jokes that I have arrested development. Do you feel like that?
GVS: I think that’s part of it. But I think that arrested development is really part of being youthful in your way of thinking. I always remember the Marx Brothers saying that they felt like they were fourteen. I think they had to feel that way, or else they’d never have been able to be the Marx Brothers. As an artist, you’re trying to have a playful mind. I think for me, the youthful characters are just the most interesting part of life.
RM: Whomever I’m photographing, I sort of fall in love with, or rather my camera falls in love with them. It could be a boy or a girl, because it’s all fantasy. It’s fiction. But people still look at photographs like they’re one hundred percent real. There’s this idea that the image I’m showing them is documentary, and so they project their own ideas about what’s going on. People will come up to me and say the weirdest things about my photographs.
GVS: Oh really?
RM: Yeah, they’ll describe something, and I’ll be like, “Are you sure you are talking about my photo?” And they’ll say, “Yeah, you know, the one where the person is running from the burning car”. Where they got that idea, I have no clue. But just getting back to what I was saying, I feel like there is a sense that you really have to love someone to photograph them. Not in an intimate sense, but I have to fall in love with someone with my camera to make really good pictures of them.
GVS: A lot of times with my lead characters, my attention becomes absorbed by them. I’ve noticed that specially with Matt Dillion, Sean Penn, River and Keanu, and Mike Pitt. But when they are out of costume, they’re totally different people.
RM: I always feel my models look sexier with clothes on. I’m spending so much time investigating their bodies and having them do all these strenuous activities while nude, so when they put their clothes on, I’m like, “Oh wow, you look great.”
GVS: Well, clothes do make people sexier.
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