Design 4

Exhibition: Ryan McGinness: Geometric Primitives

Pace Primitive is pleased to present Geometric Primitives, a collaboration with Ryan McGinness. Geometric Primitives will be on view March 30-May 5, 2012, and an opening reception will be held Friday, March 30, from 6 to 8pm.

In constructive solid geometry, primitives are simple geometric shapes such as the cube, cylinder, sphere, cone, pyramid, and torus. The schematic reduction of the human figure historically found in African art profoundly influenced Modern art. Rather than a naturalistic approach to sculpture, African art has emphasized simplified volumetric form and line. “Geometric Primitives” is also a term used in computer graphics to refer to the smallest and irreducible geometric elements that the system can handle. In vector graphics, geometric primitives are lines, circles, curves, and polygons. In this exhibition, Ryan McGinness takes the geometric primitives of African art objects and creates two-dimensional geometric primitives which are then used to create this new body of work. The results are a series of paintings, works on paper, cyanotypes, and prints which take the modernist approach into the 21st Century.

Ryan McGinness, Geometric Primitives (Silkscreens)
Set of five silkscreens
30 x 22 inches, each
Published by Pace Editions, Inc.
Edition of 30

Ryan McGinness is known for his extensive vocabulary of graphic drawings which investigate the perceived value of forms. He uses these drawings, his original icons, by layering, superimposing, and collaging them together to create paintings, sculptures, and environments. For Geometric Primitives, McGinness surveyed the collection of Pace Primitive, creating over 50 new drawings based on African works. In doing so, he has taken their volumetric structures and reduced them to flat iconographic forms. A selection of these original ink sketches will be on view. (This exhibition marks the first time McGinness has exhibited his sketch process.) These drawings were then used exclusively as the building blocks for this entire body of work.

The sources of inspiration from the African collection will be exhibited alongside McGinness’ work as classical statements of these principles that have inspired artists in the Modern tradition, including Picasso, Vlaminck and Léger. These objects will include excellent examples of traditional African art such as a Dan Mask from the Ivory Coast, a Songye Kifwebe Mask from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a Guro Female Figure from the Ivory Coast.

Ryan McGinness grew up in the surf and skate culture of Virginia Beach. His paintings, sculptures, prints, and installations subvert the graphic language of public signage and corporate logos while often referencing images from art history. This fusion of influences establishes McGinness’ own iconographic language as a multi-faceted reflection of contemporary visual culture. His work is in the permanent public collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Cincinnati Art Museum, the Saatchi Collection, MUSAC in Spain, and the Misumi Collection in Japan.

An editioned silkscreen print has been published by Pace Prints on the occasion of this exhibition. Proceeds from the sale of this print before July 11th, 2012 will benefit Africa Foundation (USA). Since 1992, the foundation has been partnering with communities in rural Africa in order to empower and improve the lives of thousands of people. The foundation works in the areas of Education, Healthcare, and Income Generating activities. To purchase this limited edition print please contact Rachel Gladfelter at 212-629-6100 or

Visit Ryan McGinness’ page at
Download free tribal art-inspired desktop backgrounds by Ryan McGinness


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This entry was posted on 2012 March 30 by in Art, Artist, Event, Exhibition, Icon, Pictograph, Printing, Symbol.

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Welcome to the Design 4 Blog

This blog is for inspiration and education related to the Parsons Design 4 Information Design and Visualization course taught by Andrew Robinson. The objectives of this class are to help students in the Strategic Design Studies program to learn how to create effective information design as a tool for communication. Beauty in form and function, which communicates ideas effectively, is our goal.
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