Peter Halley was born in New York City. He received his B.A. from Yale University and his M.F.A. from the University of New Orleans in 1978.
For over 25 years, his geometric paintings have been engaged in a play of relationships between what he calls "prisons" and "cells”— icons that reflect the increasing geometricization of social space in the world in which we live.
Halley has had solo exhibitions at the Musee d'Art Contemporain in Bordeaux, France (1991); the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain (1992); the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands (1992); the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa (1992); the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas (1995); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1997); the Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art in Japan (1998); the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany (1998); and the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio (1999).
His work has also been exhibited in galleries in Chicago, London, Madrid, Moscow, New York, Paris, Rome, Seoul, and Tokyo.
Since the mid-1990s, Halley has produced site-specific installations for exhibitions and permanent public works at the State University of New York, Buffalo (1998), the city library in Usera, Spain (2002), the Banco Suisso d’Italia Art Collection, Turin, Italy (2003), and the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Texas (2005). In 2008, he completed a large permanent installation for the Gallatin School at New York University.
Halley has also written on art and culture throughout his career. His early essays, which address post-structuralism, post-modernism, and the digital revolution of the 1980s, have been anthologized in two books of collected writings. In 2001, he received the Frank Jewett Mather Award from the College Art Association in the U.S. for his critical writing. From 1996 to 2006, Peter Halley published index magazine, which featured in-depth interviews with creative people.
He has taught at Columbia University, the University of California Los Angeles, and the School of Visual Arts in New York. Since 2002, Halley has been the Director of Graduate Studies in Painting and Printmaking at the Yale University School of Art.