Contemporary still life paintings
William Bailey, “Nocera Umbra,” 1998, oil on canvas. Private collection. © 2019 William Bailey/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

William Bailey: Looking Through Time
Yale University Art Gallery (CT)
through January 5, 2020

“William Bailey: Looking Through Time” considers the career of William Bailey (b. 1930, BFA 1955, MFA 1957), the Kingman Brewster Professor Emeritus of Art at Yale University, through a focused survey of the artist’s paintings, drawings, and prints. Special emphasis is given to Bailey’s still life paintings in oil, including the Yale University Art Gallery’s “Still Life –Table with Ochre Wall” (1972), an outstanding example of the artist’s signature style.

Contemporary still life paintings
William Bailey, “Eggs,” 1974, oil on linen. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Lawrence H. Bloedel Bequest, inv. no. 77.1.4. © Whitney Museum of American Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, N.Y.

Known for his meditative canvases depicting objects and figures painted from memory and imagination, Bailey is one of the artists—including Audrey Flack, Alex Katz, and Philip Pearlstein—who defied the prevailing taste for abstraction at midcentury and instead committed themselves to representational painting. His works have been compared to visual poems, a fitting description given their freedom from the constraints of descriptive realism, evocative balance of both form and color, and iterative development of a distinct visual aesthetic.

Contemporary still life paintings
William Bailey, “Still Life – Monterchi,” 1981, oil on canvas. Private collection. © 2019 William Bailey/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Working closely with the artist, Mark D. Mitchell, the Holcombe T. Green Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, selected approximately 40 works spanning the six decades of Bailey’s career. Some of the artist’s finest pieces have been borrowed from private collections, and many have not been on public display in a quarter century. These will be presented alongside key loans from the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Most of the approximately 20 drawings and prints on view were chosen from the artist’s own collection, offering a more intimate perspective on his vision, process, and stylistic development over time.

Contemporary still life paintings
William Bailey, “Plateau,” 1993, oil with wax medium on canvas. Private collection. © 2019 William Bailey/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

For more information, please visit the gallery website at artgallery.yale.edu.


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