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I was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England in 1956 and spent my early years in Edenbridge, a nearby village. I went to the University of Manchester and read Politics and Modern History. At that time the UK had only been in the European Community (as was) for a few years, and for a while I thought I wanted a career in politics/administration, so I gained a place on a new post-graduate course related to the EU, also at Manchester.

But it wasn't the me I had in mind, so for a few years I worked as an advertising salesman on newspapers and magazines around Fleet Street before moving to Siena, Italy, where I taught English and had a long look at Renaissance art and architecture.

On my return to the UK in 1986, I immediately took up painting, and held my first solo show in London one year later. Since then I've been making art full-time, and have gained 14 solo exhibitions at galleries in London, New York and continental Europe.

One other thing I've done has been to write about art, most recently contributing articles for the early modern sections of two important art anthologies – Thames & Hudson's Art the Whole Story and Dorling Kindersley's Art: A Definitive Visual Guide.

In 1994 I commenced work on the first of my themed series of paintings. Since 2011 the world of financial markets has been at the centre of my art practice and Art as a Derivative came into being.

I have now completed a new series of paintings concerning the investment world – Art as a Derivative III – The Hedge Fund Industry.

I live and work in Hackney, London.

Larry McGinity

1956     Born Tunbridge Wells, Kent
1975 – 79 Read Politics and Modern History, then European Studies at Manchester University
1979 – 85 Became a salesman in newspaper advertising
1985 – 86 Gave up job, moved to Sienna, Tuscany. Taught English and studied Renaissance painting
1986 – 87 Began to paint and after one year mounted first solo exhibition
1992 – 98 Moved to Suffolk to paint - Solo shows in Germany, Switzerland, New York and London
1998 – Present Returned to Hackney, London where he has his studio.

Significant solo exhibitions: 1990 John Bonham Murray Feely Gallery, London
1994 Galerie Pichler, Augsburg, Germany
1996 Galerie HILT, Basle, Switzerland
1997 DFN Gallery, 648 Broadway, New York
1999 & 2004 Belgrave Gallery, London
2007 John Bloxham Gallery, London
From 2007 - 2010 fulfilled art history writing commissions
2011 - Present completing The Financial Crisis Show series

The Beginning

It was on my return to the UK after living and working in Italy in 1985-86 that I took up painting as my career. I had studied Politics and Modern History with further studies in Common Market (as was) Administration at the University of Manchester, so the choice was not automatic, but once made, it was definitive.

I gained my first solo show a year later, exhibiting at Margaret Fisher's house-gallery in Swiss Cottage, with further solo shows every two or three years in galleries in London, Switzerland and Germany.

In 1996-97 I exhibited my first series of works on a specific theme. These were 40 oils and works on paper, representative portrayals of the key personalities and scenarios in that most violent and passionate of books, the Old Testament. This series, Bible Paintings, was shown at Galerie HILT in Basle in 1996 and the following year moved on to the DFN Gallery, SoHo, New York.

Developing series

A series of London shows followed, again each with a specific theme. In 1999 The Story of the Ancient Lovers was shown at the Belgrave Gallery. These oil paintings portrayed imaginary couples lying on a bed. Each title gave a specific geographical location, the figures' profession or job, and a precise date: The Physicist and Her Husband, Highgate, 1787; The Poor Couple, Colmar, 1527; or Fighter Pilot and His Fiancιe, Siena, 1999. The aim of this work was to balance the pursuit of personal fulfilment against the engine of history. I also sought to explore the impact of a painting's title on the viewer's perception of an artwork.

In 2001-04 I moved my studio from East London to southern France. My aim was to place myself in an isolated village, away from family or friends, and paint and draw villages – perhaps better to call them settlements. My theme was the village, but the villages I depicted were strictly imaginary, almost abstracted forms. The Village Series was exhibited at the Belgrave Gallery in 2004. Visitors to the show from various countries remarked that I had depicted a village they knew well from where they came – places I had certainly never been to.

My habit after each show has been to devote some months entirely to drawing, usually copying masterworks from art books. Now it was a specific Renaissance image – a section from Luca Signorelli's fresco The Damned in Hell in Orvieto Cathedral – that particularly grasped my attention. This motif depicted a very human couple in the clutches of their very material, businesslike, yet diabolical tormentors and it became a key motif in my next series of 33 paintings, Devils & Flowers. For the first time I incorporated written texts in my work and forsook oil paints for enamel and canned spray paint. I created a stencil of the initial image, and invented many more devils – a whole community of them – over which I applied spray paint, making rhythmic patterns of dancing devils and exotic fauna. Devils & Flowers was shown at the John Bloxham Gallery in 2007.


As a result of exhibiting this work, I was commissioned by a client to produce a number of large pieces in black, gold and silver, combining floral motifs with sections of text chosen from The Book of Ecclesiastes. In this way I was increasingly moving towards text-based paintings.

In 2008-10 I was invited to write for Dorling Kindersley's Art: The Definitive Visual Guide and Thames & Hudson's Art: The Whole Story, a flagship anthology for the new century. My area of interest is international art movements 1900-45, and I felt that researching and writing about the early modern masters would throw up some new challenges about how I viewed art today and inform my own work as an artist.

The Financial Crisis Show – Art as a Derivative.

The idea for the present series of entirely text-based paintings came from a number of sources. I had become increasingly interested in the way financial commentators in news media portrayed the unfolding financial crisis that had exploded in 2008. Some part of the story just always seemed to be missing. I began to feel that through making art I could perhaps bring a new understanding to this highly complex subject. I had just completed my art writing commissions and had been steeped in the brilliant world of the Russian Constructivists, the minimal elegance of De Stijl, and the humour and vicious parody of Dada. I felt it was a big challenge, but that by experimenting with words, shape and colour, I could find a way that they could take on a form of synaesthesia, each element working to enhance the others.

The Idea takes shape

I began researching into financial media: TV and online shows from Bloomberg, RT, and msnbc; newspaper articles; books from Scott Patterson or Michael Lewis; websites such as Zerohedge; and company statements from some of the key corporate players. I also attended a number of seminars and City networking events, registering as an Artist Specializing in Financial Markets, to learn more about the financial world and meet some of the players. The more I read and discovered, the more I saw that there was a human story behind each and every headline, each public announcement, each beat of the ticker tape... And I found that in fact there were financial analysts, journalists and economists out there who were mightily concerned to paint the bigger, and often more challenging, picture.


However, in taking on this project, I immediately foresaw a problem: I am not trained in finance. I had no idea what the myriad acronyms, such as CDS or CDO, represented; I would even have struggled to define Subprime and would have wracked my brains to discern why there were both bail-outs and bail-ins. For a year my studio became an office. My computer constantly played Bloomberg News or RT or msnbc online. I made notes on Dark Pools, Big Shorts and Ponzi schemes.

In all I garnered about half a million words of verbatim texts from TV, blogs, news headlines, newspaper reports and corporate statements going back to 2007. It became clear that rather than depict a chronological account, I would make more impact playing with concepts of time, interrupting one voice or commentary with a pithy headline, or a radically different opinion.

At times the viewer, looking at this work, will read a headline or comment and know that that is not the end of the story. For instance, a headline announcing a heavy loss of up to $1 billion actually rose in stages, as we now know, from the speculative $1 billion via $2 billion and on to north of $6 billion (London Whale). Hence the series also addresses how the incremental release of bad news – deliberate or not – has also been a facet of the financial crisis.


I identified 14 key subjects, each one represented by an individual painting. For each painting the texts were honed down from my verbatim notes, from half a million to 20,000 words. This meant that each painting synthesised the essence of the subject in around 1500 words. A dark story indeed, but one through which flashes of brilliance, searing wit and a sort of monetary black humour ultimately triumphed over what could have been a stack of dry data and a fog of technical detail and obscure jargon. In fact, it became increasingly clear to me that I was embarking on a very human story.


For the last two decades in particular, financial institutions have played a growing role in showcasing contemporary art, from grand exhibitions to cutting-edge art fairs. They have bestowed their vast earnings on the art world (in part drawn from the highly profitable derivative markets) and in the process have influenced and, some may argue, distorted aspects of art culture: blue chip investments, alternative asset classes, billionaires' pursuits. Thus the prospect of getting to know a little about the world of money-making was for me, as an artist, very tempting – and that is another reason why The Financial Crisis Show is also called Art as a Derivative.

Larry McGinity

Art as a Derivative – The Concept.

The idea of placing the activities of financial markets at the centre of my art practice came to me during 2011, and the more I looked into the world of finance, the more fascinated I became. At the time, I was having a year's break from making my own art, and working on the research and writing of two art history commissions for two leading publishers. Whilst working on the project, the sovereign debt crisis was raging and I realised that in spite of following the news I was not really able to grasp what was going on, and who or what had responsibility for it.  So I looked a bit deeper and back in time, and then the idea came to me – Why not make art about financial markets? Make art that looks good on a wall whilst addressing some of the major issues of our time.

My university studies in politics and history kicked in, and I returned to my love of research – but now it was at the service of my art.

I began by going over hundreds of hours of interviews and discussion forums in financial media, reading a host of books and reports and taking reams of notes. I attended seminars and conferences on themes such as HFT, Forex or ETFs wearing my Art as a Derivative badge. Every quote that fascinated, that seemed to say something new or with a distinctive voice I noted down as verbatim text, whatever the source.

All I had to do was create a new type of art for this critical yet hitherto ignored theme. I was shooting into the dark, having no idea if anyone in the art world would respond to this new direction.

In 2013 I met Mikhail Zaitsev, director of London's Hay Hill Gallery. Maybe because he is a doctor of mathematics with a firm interest in finance or just because he could identify a unique artistic approach to a theme that was globally dominant, he exhibited my The Financial Crisis Show – Art as a Derivative in 2014.


There are three series so far under Art as a Derivative:
2011/13:  The Financial Crisis Show – Art as a Derivative
2013/15:  Art as a Derivative II – Footsie 100 Squared
In progress:  Art as a Derivative III – The Hedge Fund Industry

The Financial Crisis Show – Art as a Derivative.

In my first series of paintings under the banner Art as a Derivative, I explored the origins and twists and turns of the great unfolding financial crisis that was unleashed on the world in 2007/08. Each of the 14 paintings that comprised this first series dealt with a specific aspect of the crisis and was made up of hundreds of words of verbatim commentary, news reports and analysis.

This series was exhibited through January 2014 at London's Hay Hill Gallery.

The whole series may be viewed on request.

Art as a Derivative II – Footsie 100 Squared

My subject here was the companies that make up the FTSE 100 index, and the method used throughout the series was papier collι – collage.  This project was envisioned as a single installation, made up of 100 one-foot-square panels – hence the title.

The 100 panels have been made in real time, so inevitably events have surpassed the 'art reality'. But that also is part of the process: critical geopolitical and market-related events occurred as I was researching and then making each piece.

The whole series may be viewed on request.

Art as a Derivative III  – The Hedge Fund Industry

I have recently completed Art as a Derivative III – The Hedge Fund Industry.

For my work on hedge funds I have unearthed tens of thousands of words of verbatim text from key players, economists and academics. I have read numerous articles in the financial sections of journals and transcribed a host of video interviews and forums. It is from these texts that I assemble my 'dialogues'. A painting with 1500 words of text has to captivate the viewer, but I love language and have relished piecing together these themed dialogues. Typography and colouration are used to identify each strand of text and create a heightened visual impact. Each painting is 105cm x 105cm.

Honing down my assembled texts, I identified fifteen key themes – so each painting addresses a specific aspect of the hedge fund industry.

My research has taken me into the dry but essential world of regulation – the broad sweep of SEC Committee findings, AIFMD, 13F reports and FCA policy. I have garnered opinion on the various and expanding realms of hedge fund strategies, their merits and pitfalls. I have also, most importantly, logged the views and 'edge' of many of the leading participants and their take on the key issues confronting their industry and the wider economy.

But hedge funds wouldn't be hedge funds if there were not the tales and anecdotes of high rewards and spending excess; stories of luxury, hedonism, extraordinary bequests and political power-play. These are also the ingredients that pepper the surface of this new Art as a Derivative series.

These are the titles of the paintings in the series:
Size & Structure
The Fund Manager
The Investor
Risk Management
Image & Self-Image
Security and Wrongdoing
Systemic Risk
The Long & The Short
A Place to do Business
Giving & Receiving
Redemptions, Returns, and Death Spirals

In recent times, industry luminaries such as Crispin Odey have spoken of his "regret" that public understanding of his secretive industry is too negative and has called for more "transparency". Indeed, only a couple of months ago Carlyle Group's David Rubenstein, when speaking at SALT 2016, suggested that such misunderstanding combined with tales of excessive rewards was having a negative impact on investment. He also called for an appraisal of the industry's public persona, suggesting that the industry may not be best placed to provide the narrative. Now Art as a Derivative lets industry critics and advocates participate in a much-needed forum. That's why its time has come...

And one final thing… In recent times there has been a plethora of articles in the press and even TV documentaries about art as the sassy (and possibly most dependable) new asset class on the block. But I feel there has been little interest in the impact of big money in shaping the aspirations and practice of today's artists. So for balance, I wanted to reverse the lens and have an artist weigh up, discuss and hold up to the light the ebbs and flows of capital in financial markets.

A catalogue providing full and comprehensive accreditation to all references included in the artworks will accompany any future exhibition of the work.

Larry McGinity, 2016

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E-mail: info@hayhillgallery.com