Peter Halley (American, b.1953) is a painter and printmaker associated with the Minimalist, Neo-Geo, and Neo-Conceptualist movements. He is best known for his brightly colored, geometric abstractions, which he calls “prisons” and “cells.” Born in New York City, Halley received his BA from Yale University, and his MFA from the University of New Orleans in 1978. In the 1980s, Halley began painting his prisons and cells, often connected by conduits, using Day-Glo acrylic colors and Roll-a-Tex texture paint additive. These iconic shapes reflect the rigid compartmentalization of space in the modern urban environment.
Over time, Halley’s compositions have become more intricate, as he has increased the number of conduits, prisons, and cells in each painting. A recent work titled Assurgent Capacity (2009–2010), for example, features two prison cells and several conduits in hot pink, sky blue, and orange, with hints of green and magenta.
Halley has produced several site-specific installations, such as Judgement Day (2011) for an exhibition at the 54th Venice Biennale. For this work, he created a tapestry of inkjet prints with a pattern influenced by Venetian churches. He has also written extensively on Post-Modernism, art, and culture, including a published collection of essays. From 1996 through 2006, he published Index Magazine, which featured interviews with prominent cultural figures. His paintings have been exhibited at the Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art in Japan, the Museum Haus Esters in Krefeld, Germany, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York.
He currently lives and works in New York.