1966, San Francisco, Bay Area
Barry McGee's drawings, paintings, and mixed-media installations address the struggles of contemporary urban life. McGee was introduced to graffiti when he was 18 years old, and under the tag Twist he became known for his stylized images of hobos, liquor bottles, and screws painted on walls and subway cars. In 1991, McGee received a degree in painting and printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute and began to merge the worlds of street and fine art in his work.
He is considered a prominent member of the Mission School, a group of artists that emerged from San Francisco's Mission District in the late 1990s and whose handmade aesthetic and DIY attitude contrasted with the dot-com gentrification of the area during that time. McGee has participated in international biennials, including Venice and the Whitney, but he continues to maintain his dialogue with the larger, more diverse audience of his street art. He sees his graffiti and gallery work as separate practices despite their stylistic and thematic links; while his wall paintings in galleries are officially endorsed and approved and painted over a period of time, his graffiti work is illicit and necessarily painted as quickly as possible.
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