Martin McGinn (b. 1955, Kent) lives and works in London. He studied at Bristol School of Art (1974-77) and the Royal College of Art (1978-81).

McGinn’s early work showed a fascination with architectural structure, light and atmosphere. His paintings at the turn of the millennium highlighted his interest in consumerism and were at the forefront of the revival of photo-based painting. McGinn carefully observed the bleaker side of contemporary capitalism with large-scale Hopper-like paintings of supermarkets, late-night kiosks and warehouses filled with cheap consumer goods. The photos he based these paintings on were carefully constructed compositions with vast perspectives, long shots and marked alterations in scale.

McGinn has maintained an interest in consumerism and the omnipresence of art catalogues lies at the centre of his new paintings, which explore the complex relationship between contemporary painting and art history. Rather than using catalogues as a source of reference, he treats these reproductions as still lives in their own right. Art books are often treated as trophies – to be kept pristine on coffee tables – where McGinn’s books are dog-eared and clearly well-used. Paintings of crumpled masterpieces, torn pages pinned to the studio wall, colour charts taped to unprimed canvases – McGinn continues to play with scale and context and produces works that invite a re-assessment of perspective and history.

Selected group exhibitions include Shopping: A Century of Art and Consumer Culture, Tate Liverpool (2003), Death to the Fascist Insect that Preys on the Life of the People, Anthony D’Offay (2001), John Moores, Walker Art Gallery (1997 and 1999) and the Whitechapel Open (1990 and 1998). His work is included in the Government Art Collection, British Council Collection and the Saatchi Collection.


Martin McGinn