Peter Halley

Peter Halley (1953, New York, NY, USA).
Lives and works in New York, NY, USA

A true contemporary master and one of the most emblematic artists of his generation, Peter Halley is recognized in the history of contemporary painting as the legitimate heir of American abstractionism.

From the very beginning of his art career, Peter Halley has responded to the complexity and scale of the city’s structure, diagramming the city’s systems of movement and communication in his paintings, drawings and Kodaliths. Employing a hermetic language of geometric abstraction borrowed from the works of Kazimir Malevich, Josef Albers and Barnett Newman, Halley transformed their utopian modernist impulse into an expression of isolation and confinement.

Halley developed a simple vocabulary of architectural icons that he labeled ’prisons’ and ’cells,’ linked with straight lines labeled ’conduits.’ Through this simple vocabulary, he sought to express the regimentation of the spaces we inhabit and how they are formed by forces beyond our control.

In 1981, Halley started to use fluorescent Day Glo paint, the eerie glow of which mimicked the light of the recently introduced LED screen, and Roll-a-Tex, a powdered paint additive used to create the “popcorn” textured interior wall treatments that were ubiquitous in newly built suburban condos of the time. Halley’s formal experimentation through the decade was driven by a tension between his use of purist geometric form and his embrace of these commercial materials.

Halley came to prominence as an artist in the mid-1980s, as part of the generation of Neo-Conceptualist artists that first exhibited in New York’s East Village that included Jeff Koons, Haim Steinbach, Meyer Vaisman and Ashley Bickerton. These artists became identified more broadly as Neo-Geo and Neo-Conceptualist. Neo-conceptualists used irony and pastiche to subvert and comment on structural issues of the time; they drew from Conceptual Art to create paintings and sculptures that operated as a set of pictorial signs referencing artists and moments in postwar art history.

In the 1990s, Halley started to produce site-specific installations for museums, galleries and public spaces that interact with the surrounding architecture. His installations mix imagery and media such as painting, fiberglass relief sculpture, wall-size flowcharts and digitally generated wallpaper.

Halley’s philosophy is the basis for the Neo-conceptualist (Neo-Geo) movement. His works are a critical analysis of the mechanization and commercialization of the modern world. Seeing the metaphor of our society, Halley describes the social landscape, human isolation and connectivity in the artist’s works. Simple diagram structures in his paintings become a means of dramatizing political and social life.

Alongside the development of his visual language, Halley also began to write essays on art and culture in 1981. A collection of his essays, “Peter Halley: Collected Essays 1981-1987,” was published by Galerie Bruno Bischofberger in 1988.

In 1996, Halley and curator and writer Bob Nickas co-founded Index, a magazine inspired by Andy Warhol’s Interview that featured interviews with people in various creative fields.

Halley served as the Director of Graduate Studies in Painting and Printmaking at the Yale University School of Art from 2002 to 2011.

The artist’s works were included in the Sao Paolo Biennale, the Whitney Biennale and the 54th Venice Biennale and are present in museums and art institutions such as:

Musee d’Art Contemporain (Bordeaux, France)
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Madrid, Spain)
Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Des Moines Art Center (Des Moines, IA, USA)
Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas, TX, USA)
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) (New York, NY, USA)
Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art (Kitakyushu, Japan)
Museum Folkwang (Essen, Germany)
Butler Institute of American Art (Youngstown, OH, USA)
Museum of Modern Art (St. Etienne, France)
Museum of Art in Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA, USA)
Schirn Kunsthall (Frankfurt, Germany)

Peter Halley

Conduits. Paintings from the 1980s

March 31 – October 15, 2023
Mudam, Luxembourg

Peter Halley

  • Two Cells with Circulating Conduit

    Two Cells with Circulating Conduit
    Acrylic, fluorescent acrylic, Flashe, and Roll-a-Tex on two adjoined canvases. 162.6 x 264.2 cm / 64 x 104 in.

    New York, International With Monument Gallery, Peter Halley, April 1986
    New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, 1987 Biennial Exhibition, March - June 1987, p. 59, illustrated in color
    Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Horn of Plenty, January - February 1989, p. 99, illustrated in color
    Conduits. Paintings from the 1980s

    Conduits: Paintings from the 1980s, Mudam Luxembourg
    Luxembourg, Mudam Luxembourg, Conduits: Paintings from the 1980s, March - October, 2023

    Cara Jordan and Clément Dirié, Eds., Peter Halley: Paintings of the 1980s, The Catalogue Raisonné, Zurich 2019, p. 101, illustrated in color
    Jerry Saltz, Ed., Beyond Boundaries: New York's New Art, New York 1986, p. 28, illustrated in color
    Hal Foster, “Signs Taken for Wonders,” Art in America 74, June 1986, p. 87, illustrated in color (incorrectly illustrated)
    Joshua Decter, “Peter Halley”, Arts Magazine, Summer 1986, p. 110, illustrated in color
    Eleanor Heartney, “Neo-Geo Storms New York,” New Art Examiner, 14 September 1986, p. 28, illustrated
    Susan Kandel, "The Non-Site of Theory," Frieze, May 1995, p. 30, illustrated in color
    Cory Reynolds, Ed., Peter Halley: Maintain Speed, New York 2000, pp. 118, 197, 199 and 201, illustrated in color
    Amy Brandt, Interplay: Neoconceptual Art of the 1980s, Cambridge 2014, pp. 36 and 145, illustrated in color
    H. H. Arnason, History of Modern Art, Boston 2013, p. 683, illustrated in color
    Joshua Decter, Art Is a Problem, Zurich 2014, p. 108, illustrated
    Richard Milazzo, Skewed: Ruminations on the Writings and Works of Peter Halley, Modena 2016, p. 59, illustrated in color

  • Peter Halley - Grey Area

    Grey Area
    Acrylic, day-glo acrylic, metallic and pearlescent acrylic, and Roll-a-Tex on canvas
    203 x 223,5 x 10 cm

    Peter Halley, Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow. Jun-Sep 2017
    Peter Halley, Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow. Sep 2010-Jan 2011

    Peter Halley. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, 2017. pp. 68-73
    'Peter Halley. Gold.' Gary Tatintsian Gallery. 2015 pp. 6, 28-29, 30-31, 62

  • Peter Halley - Cartoon Network

    Cartoon Network
    Acrylic, metallic acrylic, pearlescent acrylic, Roll-a-Tex on canvas
    259 x 315 cm

    Peter Halley. Unseen Paintings: 1997 – 2002, From the Collection of Gian Enzo Sperone, Sperone Westwater, New York, 2 Nov – 22 Dec 2018