1953, New York City, NY, USA
Peter Halley is a painter, printmaker and art theorist associated with the Minimalist, Neo-Geo, and Neo-Conceptualist movements. He is best known for his minimalist geometric abstract compositions of neon-colored plane squares and lines which he calls “prisons” and “cells.”
Born in New York City, Halley received his BA from Yale University (1975), and his MFA from the University of New Orleans in 1978. Settling in the East Village art scene, Halley theorized with Philip Taaffe and Ashley Bickerton the Neo-Geo movement. The latter criticized avant-garde’s idealism and established authoritative narratives of cultural institutions.
In the 1980s, Halley then began painting his prisons and cells, often connected by conduits, using florescent Day-Glo acrylic colors and Roll-a-Tex textured paint. These new colors and commodity-like materials used to create minimalist prison put into questions the rigidity and supposed neutrality of Minimalism itself. Indeed, with these geometric icons, Halley connects the language of abstraction to the actual compartmentalization of space in modern urban architecture and society. Over time, Halley complexified his work by gradually increasing the number of cells, conduits and prisons in his compositions.
Halley’s practice also includes site-specific installation such Judgement Day (2011) created for the 54th Venice Biennale. For this work, he created a tapestry of inkjet prints with a pattern influenced by Venetian churches. As an art theorist, he has also written critical essays on Post-Modernism, art, and culture. From 1996 through 2006, he published Index Magazine, which featured interviews with prominent cultural figures.
His work can be found the collections of The Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Tate Modern (London), the Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art (Japan), the Museum Haus Esters Krefeld (Germany), among others.
Halley currently lives and works in New York.