Barry McGee - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in association with Yongle Hong Kong Tuesday, November 29, 2022 | Phillips

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  • “It’s up to the individual to interpret. It’s doing it that’s most satisfying. It fulfils something on the inside. After I’m done it has a life of its own, know what I mean. The artwork has a life of its own… Say I paint something and put it out somewhere, or do something on a wall somewhere. When I’m done, I’m already forgotten. It has a life of its own after that.”
    — Barry McGee

    Barry McGee’s signature character, a male misfit-caricature who McGee painted all over San Francisco in the 1990s, recognisable with his sleek glossy short hair, droopy eyes and a despondent look, emerges from the bottom left of this 1998 piece as droplets of water fall down from his naked body. The vibrancy of the bold red background highlights the pallor of his nudity, while grey, cloudy, whimsical shapes float in the air above him, together with tiny human heads that carry his same sorrowful expression. Presented at the artist’s first midcareer survey exhibition hosted by Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in 2012, Untitled is a prime example of the globally influential San Francisco–based artist’s compassionate and vivacious work.

     

    The present work exhibited at California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Barry McGee, 24 August - 9 December 2012

    The present work exhibited at California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Barry McGee, 24 August - 9 December 2012


    McGee started his career in the art world as a graffiti artist before training professionally in painting and printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute. Between the late 1980s and the 1990s, he was one of the most active and prominent figures of the San Francisco street-art scene, where he was known under his tag name “Twist”. Although McGee's use of this and other monikers, such as “Ray” and “Lydia Fong”, as well as his frequent collaborations, make it difficult to precisely situate the artist's unique authorship; his international recognition grew significantly following his 2001 participation in the Venice Biennale with the muralists Stephen Powers and Todd James.

     

    In McGee’s art, the influence of graffiti, urban realism and American folk art are combined with a particularly acute political consciousness, as his work both celebrates and critiques the complexities of inner-city street life in early 21st Century America. This melange gives life to an oeuvre that is colourful, playful, and eye-catching, as McGee commands a staggering array of media to bring his art into being. While McGee is known for his interrogation of the dichotomies between high and low culture through concept, he also does this through his use of materiality, as he juxtaposes traditional art media with urban found material such as gritty plywood.
     

     


    Barry McGee discussing his practice at his 2012 retrospective at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, where the present work exhibited
     

    “[I believe in] resistance for sure. A general resistance. Some type of energy on the street resisting what is going on. Just more, I don’t know, I’m always surprised when people are not more upset about things.”
    — Barry McGee

     

    McGee’s work enjoys significant international recognition and has been exhibited at leading galleries worldwide. Some of his most recent exhibitions include the solo shows Everyday Sunrise at Perrotin Seoul (5 August 2022 – 8 September 2022), Fuzz Gathering at Perrotin Paris (16 October 2021 – 18 December 2021), and Little Savage at Eighteen Gallery, Copenhagen (18 August 2018 – 20 October 2018).

     

    His artworks are part of the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Fondazione Prada in Venice, and the UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, amongst others.

    • Provenance

      Ratio 3, San Francisco
      Private Collection
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Barry McGee, 24 August - 9 December 2012

121

Untitled

acrylic and enamel on wood panel, in 2 parts
left 241.3 x 121.9 cm. (95 x 47 7/8 in.)
right 243.8 x 121.9 cm. (95 7/8 x 47 7/8 in.)
overall 243.8 x 243.8 cm. (95 7/8 x 95 7/8 in.)

Executed in 1998.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
HK$600,000 - 800,000 
€73,800-98,500
$76,900-103,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in association with Yongle

Hong Kong Auction 30 November 2022