Sex

[NSFW] Here's Proof Throwing a Great Party Every Week is Art

Ryan McGinness' yearlong experimental bacchanal is memorialized in his new book, '50 Parties.'
December 2, 2016, 10:00pm
Images courtesy the artist

In 2009, a grand partying experiment was conducted in NYC-based artist Ryan McGinness' Chinatown studio. Could one artist and his friends throw 50 genuinely good themed parties in a single year? "The entire year was exhausting," McGinness tells The Creators Project. "After party two, I almost threw in the towel. And, again halfway through, I almost pulled the plug." But he didn't, and now the artist and Standard Press are releasing 50 Parties, a 500-page book that documents what he learned by devoting 50 Friday nights to studying the art of getting down.

McGinness used his graphic design training to create invitations loaded with special instructions, which he sent each week to a curated list of guests. For example, the invitation for Party 02: Shoot the Freak read, "Paint ball shooting range in the studio. Come to either shoot or be the freak. Don't wear anything you don't want paint on. In fact, wear something you do want paint on, like a blank white t-shirt." Depending on the week's theme, visitors to McGinness Studios dressed for a pool party, a vogue ball, an autopsy, in soccer uniforms, or wearing nothing but body paint. What happened each night has been meticulously photographed, and you can get a taste of what the parties were like—and see all the invites—on the project's official website.

In an effort to cultivate genuine human connections, McGinness left brands out of the process. The bacchanals, thrown without help from sponsors, became as much a stage for experimental performance as for meeting attractive, interesting people of the opposite sex. McGinness asked guests to become something they weren't, whether doctors, vampires, or white trash, and that resulted in wild behavior. "Once somebody fell down the stairs, cracked his head open, and had to go to the hospital in an ambulance to get stitches," McGinness recounts. He adds as an afterthought, "And there was a lot of fucking in the confessional booth."

McGinness has spent the last seven years putting the 50 Parties book together. He's a known perfectionist, and his paintings—and the 18 other books he's published—are the product of endless iteration. As a result, he's spent a lot of time thinking about the nature of parties, how to throw them, and how to tell their story once they're history. His answer to burning question, "What's the secret to throwing a great party?" is as simple and elegant as the minimalist icons that make up his paintings. "Put your guests' needs before your own." McGinness may be putting that mantra to the test full time, as he reveals the next step for the 50 Parties experiment: "We're putting together a small group of investors and exploring the idea of opening a club," he says.

On December 2 Ryan McGinness and Standard Press are throwing Party 51, the the launch event for 50 Parties, at The Standard Spa, Miami Beach. You can get your own copy of the book here, learn more about the year-long saga here, and check out McGinness' other work here.

Related:

Ryan McGinness Thinks You're Looking at Art Wrong | Studio Visits

Paintings within Paintings Hit Disorienting New Show '#metadata'

Ryan McGinness' Meditations on Motherhood