In 2000, Ryan McGinley, then a student, staged his first exhibition of photographs in an abandoned SoHo gallery. To coincide with the show, the artist created several handmade books featuring a sampling of his work entitled The Kids Are Alright. A copy eventually found its way into the hands of Sylvia Wolf, then a curator of photography at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2003, Wolf mounted an exhibition of his work at the venerable institution, the youngest artist to ever have a solo show at the museum.
What Wolf recognized-and what other critics, curators, and collectors would quickly discover-was an artist who understood and chronicled his own generation (habitu