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Born: 1966, San Francisco, California
Lives and Works: San Francisco
Reflecting punk, outsider, and folk art sensibilities, Barry McGee's playfully anarchic multimedia installations combine detritus from urban culture with the considered techniques of formal artmaking. His work generates an ambivalent dialogue between the spontaneous and uncontrolled atmosphere of street art and the mediated "white cube" of the contemporary art gallery. Found, discarded, and recycled objects, motorized figures, audio components, and video monitors exist alongside portraits, text, assemblages of framed photographs and drawings, and sections of geometric optical color-field "wallpaper." McGee's installations often include his trademark images of morose, droopy, caricatured faces inspired by the transient and homeless population of San Francisco. These images form a poignant—if fleeting—commentary on the overlooked status of outsiders within a community. The temporality of his visual language and the immediacy of its communication convey a history that is continually written, erased, and written again.
Watch more video interviews in the Video/Audio Library.