Since the 1979 gallery debut of street art pioneers Lee Quinones and Fab Five Freddy, curators
and artists alike have attempted to bring the vitality and lawlessness of graffiti into a fine arts
context. These attempts have largely been regarded as failures, with the work’s “grit and defiance
drained away by institutional approval.”1 Through an ever-expanding practice that currently
incorporates formal pattern paintings, aerosol spray paint, found objects, photography, animatronic
mannequins, and ballpoint pen drawings, Barry McGee has spent the last two decades
successfully engaging audiences by mounting his graffiti-centered art in galleries and museums.