William T. Wiley
American artist



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William T. Wiley
American artist
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William T. Wiley has been called Huckleberry Duchamp, the Metaphysical Funk Monk, and the purveyor of Dude Ranch Dada. But to you, he can just be Mr. Unnatural.

Wiley grew up in rural Indiana, dreaming of life as one of the cowboys in his favorite comic books or movies. His father sold the family farm, packed up a trailer and moved the fam cross country to the Pacific Northwest. William developed a dogged love of art that's lead to a career bringing him fame for an irreverent style utilizing media from acrylic to a pinball machine.

His first solo exhibition was at SFMOMA all the way back in 1960, while he was still a student at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute). After college, he was handpicked to join revolutionary first generation faculty in the art department UC Davis. Wiley loved teaching, and many of his students recall his laid back yet sagacious pedagogy, for which he might best be described as some funky hybrid of Hank Williams and a Zen Buddhist monk. There, alongside such great California artists as Robert Arneson, Manuel Neri, and Wayne Thiebaud, Wiley helped forge a first-of-its-kind MFA which helped artists zero in on their full potential.

Today, Wiley works out of his home studio in Marin County where he works on art all day while tuning in to NPR (otherwise known as living the dream). One of the hallmarks of his output is a recurring character named Mr. Unnatural. He's a lanky guy decked out with a bathrobe, false nose, Japanese clogs, and a dunce cap.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about William T. Wiley

William T. Wiley (born October 21, 1937) is an American artist. His practice spans a broad range of media including drawing, painting, sculpture, film, performance, and pinball. At least some of Wiley's work has been referred to as funk art.

Life and work

He was born in Bedford, Indiana. Raised in Indiana, Texas, and Richland, Washington, Wiley moved to San Francisco to study at the California School of Fine Arts where he earned his BFA in 1960 and his MFA two years later. In 1963, Wiley joined the faculty of the UC Davis art department with Bay Area Funk Movement artists Robert Arneson and Roy DeForest. During that time Wiley instructed students including Bruce Nauman, Deborah Butterfield, and Stephen Laub. According to Dan Graham, the literary, punning element of Nauman's work came from Wiley. Wiley also acknowledges the effect Nauman had on his own work.

His first solo exhibition was held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1960.

In the late 1960s Wiley collaborated with the minimalist composer Steve Reich and introduced him to Bruce Nauman.

Wiley continued to build upon his growing stature as a major artist with works appearing in the Venice Biennial (1980) and Whitney Biennial (1983). He also had major exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1981), M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco (1996), and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2005).

In 2009, the Smithsonian American Art Museum presented a retrospective of Wiley's career titled What's It All Mean: William T. Wiley in Retrospect, from October 2, 2009 through January 24, 2010. A review in the Wall Street Journal stated: "Mr. Wiley's work is unlike any other in recent art... He is less a contemporary artist than a national treasure."

In 2010, the retrospective moved to the Berkeley Art Museum, from March 17 to July 18. The catalogue for the retrospective, "What's It All Mean: William T. Wiley in Retrospect", was co-published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and University of California Press. In 2017, Wiley was the subject of a solo exhibition at Bivins Gallery, Dallas, TX, William T. Wiley: Where the Rub Her Meats the Rode.

In 2019, Hosfelt Gallery presented William T. Wiley: Sculpture, Eyes Wear Tug Odd, which emphasized Wiley's sculptures and constructions and their relationship to his work in other mediums. In a review for Square Cylinder, David M. Roth wrote, "In all, there are 40 pieces in the show, all of them worthy of sustained contemplation and discussion. I visited the exhibition twice, and each time I left the gallery feeling as if my head were about to explode, so dense is the imagery and text contained in these works. It borders on horror vacui. Given the madness engulfing us, that approach seems right. Wiley’s art, always extraordinarily prescient, now feels more relevant than ever."

Also a singer and musician, Wiley collaborated with German composer Efdemin aka Phillip Sollmann, performing vocals on Oh, Lovely Appearance of Death for the 2019 CD release "New Atlantis" on the Ostgut Ton label . Fact Magazine described the project as inspired by Francis Bacon’s 17th century utopian novel of the same name and according to the label “oscillates between fast, kaleidoscopic techno, multilayered drones and acoustic instrumentation”, incorporating the sounds of Sollmann’s dance floor-oriented productions as Efdemin and his more experimental work.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about William T. Wiley.