Largely associated with Neo-Conceptualism and Minimalist art, Peter Halley is famed for his vibrantly-coloured geometrical paintings, often described as square prisons. Halley challenges the concept of space, viewing his principle motif, the square, as a metaphor for confinement. Reflecting the idea of prisons, solitary themes play crucial to Halley’s work. The artist refers to the time when he first returned to New York, recollecting the isolated hardships he faced upon living alone. The importance of solitary isolation in his work is further enhanced by his intensely bright, almost fluorescent, colour palette, which has often been interpreted as a clear movement away from the natural world. Using Roll-a-Tex and Day-Glo paint as his main material sources, Halley’s art thus transcends modern principles as a reflection of contemporary society.
Peter Halley was born in New York City in 1953. After receiving his BA from Yale University, he furthered his studies at the University of New Orleans, graduating with an MFA in 1978. Halley remained working in New Orleans until 1980, when he made the decision to move to New York. It was in New York that the artist began reaching new peaks, furthering his milieu of work in the creation of his most influential pieces. Since then, Halley has gone on to exhibit at important establishments like the Musee d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux (1991), the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (1992), the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1992), the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1997), the Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art (1998), the Museum Folkwang, Essen (1998), the Butler Institute of American Art (1999) and the Guggenheim Museum, New York (2007). Furthermore, his work has been exhibited on an international scale, having been displayed in galleries in London, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Seoul and Tokyo. Halley has also published a variety of essays addressing post-structuralism, post-modernism, and most importantly, the digital revolution of the 1980s, which has been collated into two books of collected essays. His writing has received countless appraisal, and he was awarded the Frank Jewett Mather Award from the College Art Association in 2001. Halley has also gone on to lecture at prominent institutions, most notably Columbia University in New York, UCLA and the School of Visual Arts. From 2002 to 2011, Halley was appointed the Director of Graduate Studies in Painting and Printmaking in the Yale School of Art. Currently, he serves as the William Leffingwell Professor of Painting in the Yale School of Art, and lives and works in New York.