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MARKET INDEX: BARRY McGEE

View of Barry McGee, “Metropolitan Meat Market,” 2004, John Kaldor Art Projects, Melbourne, Australia.

NOT QUITE A BLACK MARKET, but rather shaded in gray, new circuits of distribution and exchange continually flow outside the art world’s usual trade routes—and nothing seems to have traversed these channels more nimbly than the work of San Francisco–based artist Barry McGee. His pieces may begin on car doors or in train stations, galleries or museums. But they have made their way to eBay (inciting international bidding wars), alternative exhibition spaces, and skate shops; they have been regularly stolen, traded, destroyed, and faked. And, of course, they have had feature turns at art fairs and auction houses. McGee’s is a body of work that confounds any shopworn dualism between the street and the evening sale. With gentle agility, it infiltrates both—and beyond.

McGee began writing graffiti as “Twist” in the Bay Area in 1985. His tags were quick, clandestine, and subject

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