Barry McGee is a painter and graffiti artist. He is also known by monikers such as Ray Fong, Twist and further variations of Twist, such as Twister, Twisty, Twisto and others.
McGee rose out of the Mission School art movement and graffiti boom in the San Francisco Bay Area during the early nineties. His work draws heavily from a pessimistic view of the urban experience. His paintings are very iconic, with central figures dominating abstracted backgrounds of drips, patterns and color fields. He has also painted portraits of street characters on their own empty bottles of liquor, painted flattened spray cans picked up at train yards and painted wrecked vehicles for art shows.
McGee was highly influential on the urban art scene that followed in his wake. He popularized use of paint drips in urban-influenced graphic design, as well as the gallery display technique of clustering paintings. These clustered compositions of pictures are based on similar installations he saw in Catholic churches whilst working in Brazil. He also was an early participant in the practice of painting directly on gallery walls, imitating the intrusive nature of graffiti.
The market value of his work rose considerably after 2001 as a result of his being included in the Venice Biennale and other major exhibitions. As a result, much of his San Francisco street art has been scavenged or stolen.
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