Peter Halley

Societal structures in orthogonal fluoro.

Peter Halley (he/him) was born in 1953 in New York, USA, where he continues to live and work.

Collections

Halley’s paintings appear in the collections of major institutions including Tate, Whitney, Guggenheim and MoMA.

Did you know?

In addition to a prolific painting career, Halley is also a renowned critical writer – specifically for his work on the digital revolution. He is also an educator, previously Director of Graduate Studies in Painting and Printmaking at Yale School of Art. Robert Nava cites him as a formative influence.

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Collaborations with this artist

Practice overview

Peter Halley creates fluorescent, diagramatic paintings suffused with social commentary. His circuit board-like canvases connect regimented arrangements of rectangles with precise, perpendicular lines. Alluding to what he calls the “geometrisation of modern life,” Halley observes parallels between the structures of electronic networks, prison cells and city planning. Dazzling neon palettes echo those used in eye-catching advertisements, and are rendered using industrial paints such as Roll-a-Tex and Day-Glo. Seamless surfaces, achieved using rollers rather than brushes, intentionally erase any trace of human touch.

As a prominent member of the 1980s Neo-Geo movement (also known as Neo-Geometric Conceptualism), Halley joined artists like Jeff Koons and Annette Lemieux in using abstraction to critique the individualism and materialism of Ronald Reagan’s America. When the movement emerged, Halley was particularly interested in modes of urban living that were at once insular and interlinked. City-dwellers were compartmentalised by the streets, floors and rooms of domestic space, and yet inextricably connected by technologies such as electrical grids and telephones. Undoubtedly, the same paradox endures four decades later in a post-internet world. As more and more of life moves online, Halley’s work speaks to the isolation of hyperconnectivity, as well as to enduring themes of social cohesion and power.

“I'm certainly not an activist artist, but I think, as an artist or writer, the way you respond to political and social events isn't always directly addressing them, but how it affects your language and the emotional resonance.” Peter Halley

Journals about this artist