Wall and Ardor: William T. Wiley in the 21st Century

May 10, 2014 to July 27, 2014

Over a period of fifty years, William T. Wiley has distinguished himself as an artist whose extensive body of work has consistently defied mainstream contemporary art. Through the years, the subtle power of Wiley’s unique voice has been widely recognized with his inclusion in the Venice Biennale, Whitney Biennial, Documenta V and the Carnegie International.  His first solo exhibition was held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1960. In 1979 the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis presented a retrospective in celebration of the museum’s opening. Thirty years later, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Berkeley Art Museum honored him with another wide-ranging retrospective. As co-curator Joann Moser wrote, “This exhibition affirms his significance as an artist of national stature whose accomplishment resonates well beyond the region in which he has chosen to live and time period when he first achieved recognition.”

In spite of his international recognition, Wiley’s activist political and social spirit and his early, prescient commitments to the environment render him an essentially Bay Area California artist. He creates innovative, highly personal works of art in many media that combine a sense of irony with commanding craftsmanship. Painting for Wiley is intertwined with language. Word and image seduce the viewer to experience the unexpected.  Elizabeth Broun, Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum writes, “Wiley is our guide to our confounding world, with a body of work that is astonishing, engaging and comforting, too. With visionaries like this in our midst, there is hope.”

Curators: Peter Selz, Professor Emeritus of Modern Art at UC Berkeley and collector and artist, Sue Kubly

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