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Barry McGee (American, b.1966)


Also known as:  Twist; Ray Fong; Bernon Vernon; P. Kin

Birth Place: San Francisco (San Francisco county, California, United States)


Who is painter Barry McGee?

Barry McGee is a contemporary American artist, best known for his graffiti and for being a stalwart of the Mission School art movement. McGee has used several monikers over the years, most famously Twist, P.Kin, and Ray Fong. While there are several prominent New York graffiti artists from the 1980s, McGee is unique in that he is by-far the most central figure of the San Francisco graffiti art scene at that time. Going under the moniker of Twist, McGee became nationally recognized for his extreme use of stylized pictographs and stark black and white aesthetic. This led to an artist residency at the McClymonds High School in Oakland -- and cemented his status as a street art master.

These days McGee is a widely renowned artist whose work straddles the intersections of street art, installation, and the Mission School. His pieces have been exhibited at some of the most impressive galleries and museums across the world including the Deitch Gallery, the Venice Biennale, the Rose Art Museum, and the Perrotin Gallery of Hong Kong. He’s long been a voice of the San Francisco artist, mounting solo exhibitions at Ratio 3 in SF, the Gallery Paule Anglim, and a career retrospective at the Berkeley Art Museum.

What kind of art does Barry McGee make?

Barry McGee makes large scale urban art, installation pieces, and is most closely associated with the Mission School art movement, of which he is a founding member. While Mission School encompasses several artistic styles and aesthetics, it is best identified by its cheeky sense of humor, elevation of “lowbrow” culture, and emphasis on folk art forms. McGee has continued to evolve as an artist as his artist has grown. McGee now works in large scale installation pieces. These works are inspired by a disparate set of influences, from Islamic tile patterns to caricature to sign painting. McGee’s works are designed to challenge the viewer, his pieces designed to provoke thought and discussion about the urban spaces that they inhabit.

How did painter Barry McGee get started?

Barry McGee was born in South San Francisco, just minutes away from the artistic mecca of the Bay area. He became interested in art in high school, while attending El Camino High School. He decided to major in painting and printmaking in college, attending the San Francisco Art Institute and graduating in 1991. During this time, McGee became one of the main figures of the San Francisco graffiti art community. Under the name Twist, he put up several notable pieces around the city in the late 1980s and early 1990s. From there he founded the Mission School movement, which is also identified as New Folk or Urban Rustic, which sought to elevate traditionally marginalized art like caricature, folk art, and street culture.

How much are Barry McGee paintings worth?

Barry McGee paintings have seen a steep rise in value since his inclusion in the Venice Biennale. On the low end a Barry McGee work can sell for a few thousand dollars, but this price can climb as high as six figures for major pieces. The highest price ever paid at auction for a Barry McGee work is $193,000 for the piece La Migra (in collaboration with Sandow Birk) (1995) which sold on November 19th, 2017. This was over $130,000 more than its high estimate.

Where to buy Barry McGee paintings for sale?

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How to value Barry McGee paintings?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services department.

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