William T. Wiley Biography

William T. Wiley




William T. Wiley, influential painter, printmaker, sculptor, and educator, was born in Bedford, Indiana on October 21, 1937. His family moved to Texas and Washington state when Wiley was a child, settling in the latter when he was a teen. After graduation he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he studied at the San Francisco Art Institute, earning his B.F.A. degree in 1960 and his M.F.A. degree in 1962. After taking a position on the faculty of the University of California, Davis art department the following year, he embarked on his path toward establishing the Funk art scene with fellow Bay Area artists Roy DeForest and Robert Arneson. A multi-disciplinary artist, he worked in a broad range of media including painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, film, and music. 

Wiley exhibited frequently throughout the U.S. and abroad. Major exhibitions included: the San Francisco Museum of Art, 1960 (first solo show); Venice Biennial, 1980; Whitney Biennial, 1983; H. de Young Memorial Museum, 1996; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2005; Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2009 - 2010 (retrospective); among many others. He
 taught at the San Francisco Art Institute, University of Nevada at Reno, Washington State College in Pullman, University of California at Berkeley, School of Visual Arts in New York, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and was Associate Professor at the University of California at Davis between 1963 and 1973.

Wiley received the Australian Arts Council traveling grant in 1980, the Guggenheim Fellowship Award in 2004, a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 from the Southern Graphics International Conference, and Honorary Membership in the California Society of Printmakers in 2009.

As late as 2019 Wiley was continuing to create, collaborating as a singer with German composer Efdemin (a.k.a. Phillip Sollman) on the song "Oh, Lovely Appearance of Death," for his album New Atlantic. Wiley's work is represented in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Des Moines Art Center, Museum of Modern Art in New York, Oakland Museum of California Art, San Francisco Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Stedilijk van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands, University of California Art Museum at Berkeley, University of Kansas Art Museum in Lawrence, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

During the Smithsonian American Art Museum retrospective, Eric Denker, director of the Corcoran Gallery and one of the show's collaborators, wrote, "There is an innate directness to Wiley’s work … he applies his inherent wit and creativity to basic materials to explore very humanistic themes. Wiley’s assured draftsmanship and quiet humor draw us into his world, where we pause to marvel at the metamorphosis of symbols and words and images."

William T. Wiley died on April 25, 2021 in Marin County, California.