Art contemporain

Murals, LACMA parking garage (now torn down) by Barry McGee (Twist).

Barry McGee (born 1966 in San Francisco, California) 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.

Life and career[]

McGee graduated from El Camino High School in South San Francisco, California. He later graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1991 with a concentration in painting and printmaking.

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, which he describes as, "urban ills, overstimulations, frustrations, addictions & trying to maintain a level head under the constant bombardment of advertising".

McGee's 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 has had numerous shows in many kinds of galleries and was also an artist in residence at inner-city McClymonds High School in Oakland, California in the early 1990s.

He was married to the artist Margaret Kilgallen, who died of cancer in 2001. The couple has a daughter named Asha.

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.[1][2]

Exhibition of his work[]

Barry McGee "the Buddy System" exhibits at Deitch in NY. March 20, 1999 — April 24, 1999 [1]

Barry McGee "HOSS" exhibits at Rice Gallery in Houston,Texas. From September 16 through October 24, 1999 [2]

McGee's work was included in the 2001 Venice Biennale. [3]

Barry McGee exhibits at Gallery Paule Anglim in San Francisco, CA - View Examples of Artwork

Barry McGee solo exhibition at Rose Art Museum in Waltham, MA. Apr 29 - Jul 25, 2004. [4]

Barry McGee LOFT installation at Roberts & Tilton Gallery Los Angeles, CA. Dec.2, 2006-Feb 3, 2007. [5]

Barry McGee solo exhibits at Watari-um Museum in Tokyo, Japan Jun 2nd -Sept 30, 2007. [6]

Barry McGee solo exhibits at BALTIC Centre in UK. January 21 -April 27, 2008. [7]

Barry McGee and Clare Rojas exhibition "The Big Sad" at Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA. Mar 30 - May 17, 2008. [8]

2008 Life on Mars, the 2008 Carnegie International [9]

Barry McGee solo exhibition at Ratio 3 in San Francisco, CA. September 5 - October 18, 2008. [10]

2009-2010 Biennale de Lyon, France


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.


Fichier:TWIST - Ray Fong image.jpg

Barry McGee self-portrait

Fichier:TWIST - Ray Fong adidas.jpg

Adidas Y1 HUF shoes

McGee was involved in a controversy regarding the Adidas Y1 HUF, a shoe for which he provided the artwork. This gave rise to a protest campaign by some Asian-Americans who claimed that the picture on the shoe's tongue depicts a racist stereotype. McGee responded to the controversy in a March 2006 press release.[11] He stated that the drawing was a portrait of himself as an eight-year-old child. Barry McGee is half Chinese.

In 2004, as part of an exhibit, McGee spray-painted "Smash the State" on the walls of San Francisco Supervisor Matt Gonzalez' City Hall office (City Hall is a registered national landmark)."[3] Gonzalez told the press that he knew his office would be repainted for the next occupant.


  • "The more I learned about the art world, the more my interest in what was going on outside of it increased, I didn't have any desire to bring graffiti inside the school's walls or anything."
  • "Compelling art to me is a name carved into a tree. Sometimes a rock soaring through a plate of glass can be the most beautiful, compelling work of art I have ever seen."

See also[]

  • Beautiful Losers (film)
  • Mission School
  • Lowbrow (art movement)
  • Piece by Piece (documentary)


  1. "The Mission school" by Glen Helfand, San Francisco Bay Guardian, October 28, 2002.
  2. "Twist Thief" by Trippe, Fecal Face (website), December 13, 2007. (scroll down)
  3. Lelchuk, I. Last word on government: Graffiti installation in Gonzalez's office gets mixed reviews. San Francisco Chronicle on the web, 10 December 2004.

Further reading[]

External links[]