Art: Petra (Pieces)

Normally, the acquisition of a new photograph by the Cincinnati Art Museum wouldn’t be that impactful. But Ryan McGinley’s “Petra (Pieces)” is different.

Jul 1, 2015 at 1:13 pm
click to enlarge “Petra (Pieces)” by Ryan McGinley, 2013, c-print
“Petra (Pieces)” by Ryan McGinley, 2013, c-print

Normally, the acquisition of a new photograph by the Cincinnati Art Museum wouldn’t be that impactful. By and large, prints are small and subtle, and often black-and-white until recent decades.

But Ryan McGinley’s “Petra (Pieces)” is different.

There is its size — almost six feet by nine feet. There is the strong color, with a background of burnished, brownish gold that seems like our earth after a long, consuming fire. There is the fact it’s figural — a portrait of a woman — in a gallery mostly featuring work that is abstract, minimalist or at least not clearly representational.

And then there is the nature of the portrait. A young woman with auburn hair, attractive in a conventional sense, reclines nude against that background, much of her body caked with full-frontal mud. Her face is mostly free of such degradation. Her hair is beyond unkempt; it’s unraveling. Red rings around her open but uncaring eyes make you wonder if she’s a corpse. Read the full story here.


CONTACT STEVEN ROSEN: [email protected]