Peter Halley (b. 1953)
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Peter Halley (b. 1953)


Peter Halley (b. 1953)
signed twice and dated 'Peter Halley Peter Halley 1991' (on the reverse)
acrylic, fluorescent acrylic, and Roll-a-Tex on two attached canvases
90 x 85 ½in. (229 x 217cm.)
Executed in 1991
Sonnabend Gallery, New York.
Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago.
Private Collection, Chicago.
Gagosian Gallery, New York.
Anon. sale, Phillips de Pury & Company New York, 15 May 2008, lot 158.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
C. Reynolds (ed.), Peter Halley: Maintain Speed, New York 2000 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Peter Halley and Alessandro Mendini, exh. cat., New York, Mary Boone Gallery, 2013 (illustrated in colour, p. 6).

Chicago, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Peter Halley, 1991.
Des Moines, Des Moines Art Center, Peter Halley: Paintings 1989-1992, 1992-1993 (illustrated in colour, p. 37).
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Examining Pictures: exhibiting paintings, 1999 (illustrated in colour, p. 53). This exhibition later travelled to Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art.
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Lot Essay

‘I have tried to employ the codes of Minimalism, Colour Field painting and Constructivism to reveal the sociological basis of their origins. Informed by Foucault, I see in the square a prison; behind the mythologies of contemporary society, a veiled network of cells and conduits.’
– Peter Halley

Spanning over two metres in width and height, Peter Halley’s Todd is a large-scale example of his celebrated geometric abstractions. Executed in 1991, it was included in the artist’s solo exhibition at the Des Moines Art Center the following year, as well as in the touring group show Examining Pictures at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago in 1999. With its network of interconnected cells, rendered in radiant Day-glo hues of red, orange and green, it exemplifies the psycho-social approach to abstraction that first brought Halley to prominence in New York during the 1980s. Like his contemporaries Jeff Koons and Ashley Bickerton, Halley was initially associated with the so-called neo-geometric (‘neo-geo’) conceptualist movement that took hold in the East Village. Building on the languages of Pop Art, Minimalism and Op Art, and deeply influenced by the writings of the French post-structuralists, his work sought to capture what he saw as the ‘geometricisation of modern life’. His compositions – conceived as a series of ‘cells’ or ‘prisons’ connected by ‘conduits’ – strove to reflect not only the city’s three-dimensional urban grid, but also the burgeoning flow of information spawned by computer technology. In works such as the present, geometric abstraction becomes a metaphor for the isolating effects of these new structures. The single square – once, for Kazimir Malevich, the ultimate site of modernist aspiration – is now recast as a zone of confinement, wired like a circuit board. ‘Since 1980, my images seem, step by step, to have grown more complex and fast-paced in a way that somehow parallels the acceleration of the movement and information in the new computer culture’, claims Halley. ‘I take great pleasure in the idea that my work could be a mirror of this era of change’ (P. Halley, quoted in Once Upon a Time in America, London 1999, p. 22).

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