b. 1953, USA

Peter Halley Biography

Peter Halley is an American artist, writer, and leading figure of the Neo-Conceptualism. He is best known for his geometric Day Glo paintings of the 1980s and 90s that explore the organisation of contemporary life through systems and networks. He has also published numerous essays on art and co-founded the art and culture magazine index, which ran from 1996 to 2005.

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Peter Halley rose to prominence in the mid-1980s among the artist community of New York's East Village, exhibiting in its artist-run spaces among artists such as Jeff Koons, Ashley Bickerton, and Richard Prince. Theoretically minded, Halley sought to repurpose the language of art historical abstraction for what he saw was the complete geometricization of social space under the technological and industrial developments of the late 20th century.

Influenced by the geometry of the surrounding city and the French poststructuralist theory that was shaping intellectual discourse in New York in the late 1970s, Halley developed a formal iconography that defined postmodern subjectivity through networks of exchange and regulation. Composed from square 'prisons' or 'cells' connected via 'conduits', his paintings were often rendered in fluorescent Day Glo paint, with surface texture produced by a commercial surfacing tool used in suburban homes and motels. Red Cell with Conduit (1982) invokes this systematisation of information, social life, and the self. A bright red field of colour separated into a textured cell with a conduit beneath, it recalls the flow of electricity or the transportation of goods.

By using commercial painting materials and high-keyed colour, Peter Halley also invoked pop cultural imagery, such as fluorescent street signs or New Wave pop aesthetics, declaring artmaking in the postmodern era as totally divorced from the representation of the natural world. In 1986, Halley was featured in a break-out exhibition at the Sonnabend Gallery, an established gallery in New York. Marking a departure from the stylistically dominant Neo-Expressionism, heralded by artists such as Julian Schnabel and Enzo Cucchi, the show distinguished Halley as a central figure in the emergent Neo-Geo or Neo-Expressionist movement.

In the 1990s, Peter Halley's work developed in response to the digital revolution. In 1993, Halley produced Superdream Mutation, a web-based print that is thought to be the first artwork made exclusively for online viewing and sale. Branching out into digital software, printmaking, and comic-book influenced imagery, Halley also began to stage site-specific installations. These included an installation at the Dallas Museum of Art in 1995, which employed a mixture of painting, wall-sized flow charts, and digitally produced wallpaper prints. Halley has also produced a number of permanent public works, including a large painting at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Texas (2005). In 2011, he exhibited Judgement Day, a series of digital prints, in the Palazzo Bembo as part of the 54th Venice Biennale, and in 2018 staged a large-scale presentation at the Lever House, New York.

As a writer, Peter Halley produced numerous essays between the 1980s and the early 2000s. Much like his paintings, these interrogated the relationship between the individual and larger social structures, and included theoretical essays on art, such as 'Essence and Model' (1988). Halley has also taught at Columbia University, New York, and the University of California, Los Angeles. From 2002 to 2011, he served as the Director of Graduate Studies in Painting and Printmaking at the Yale University School of Art.

Peter Halley's works are held among significant public and private collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Tate, London; and Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Peter Halley solo exhibitions include:

THE SCHIRN RING, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2016); Since 2000, Musée d'Art Moderne, Saint Étienne Métropole (2014); Paintings of the 1990s, Museum Folkwang, Essen (1998); and New Concepts in Printmaking 1: Peter Halley, Museum of Modern Art, New York (1997). A major retrospective of his work travelled across Europe and was exhibited at Musée d'Art Contemporain, Bordeaux (1991); Musée d'Art Contemporain, Lausanne (1991-1992); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (1992); and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1992).

Alena Kavka | Ocula | 2021

Peter Halley Featured Artworks

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No Exit by Peter Halley contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, sculpture
Peter Halley No Exit, 2022 Acrylic, fluorescent acrylic and Roll-A-Tex on canvas
196 x 171 cm
Galerie Thomas Contact Gallery
Darkness Minus Twelve by Peter Halley contemporary artwork painting
Peter Halley Darkness Minus Twelve, 2004 Acrylic, fluorescent acrylic, metallic acrylic, pearlescent acrylic, and Roll-a-Tex on canvas
191 x 191 cm
Almine Rech Contact Gallery
Untitled (11/16/95.12) by Peter Halley contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, sculpture
Peter Halley Untitled (11/16/95.12)", 1996 Acrylic, fluorescent acrylic and metallic acrylic on digitally-printed paper
45.5 x 61 cm
Galerie Thomas Contact Gallery
Lost Illusions by Peter Halley contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Peter Halley Lost Illusions, 2020 Acrylic, fluorescent acrylic and Roll-a-Tex on canvas
187 x 179.1 cm
Karma Contact Gallery
Dust by Peter Halley contemporary artwork painting
Peter Halley Dust, 2009 Acrylic, Day-Glo acrylic and Roll-a-Tex on canvas
203.2 x 144.8 cm
Waddington Custot
Impulse by Peter Halley contemporary artwork painting
Peter Halley Impulse, 2010 Day-glo acrylic, metallic and pearlescent acrylic, and Roll-a-Tex on canvas
203.5 x 208.3 x 9.8 cm
Gary Tatintsian Gallery Contact Gallery
Disconnect by Peter Halley contemporary artwork painting
Peter Halley Disconnect, 2012 Acrylic, fluorescent acrylic and Roll-a-Tex on canvas
178 x 193 cm
Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea
Bright by Peter Halley contemporary artwork painting
Peter Halley Bright, 2018 Day-Glo, Roll-a-Tex and acrylic on canvas
187 x 184 cm
Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea

Peter Halley Recent Exhibitions

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Peter Halley Represented By

Almine Rech contemporary art gallery in Brussels, Belgium
Almine Rech Aspen, Brussels, London, New York, Paris +1
Karma contemporary art gallery in 188 E 2nd Street, New York, USA
Karma New York

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