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Peter Halley

The Acid Test



Peter Halley (1953-)


The Acid Test




Acrylic on canvas, four parts


Overall: 90 1/8 × 182 5/16 × 3 13/16 in. (228.9 × 463.1 × 9.7 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Louis and Bessie Adler Foundation, Inc. and the Painting and Sculpture Committee

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In The Acid Test, Peter Halley infuses the geometric pictorial vocabulary of Minimalism with bright, often Day-Glo colors in startling juxtapositions. The two main panels, which Halley calls “cells,” contain stucco-like surfaces of tangerine and turquoise; these are superimposed on a network of interconnecting bands that the artist dubs “conduits.” The composition evokes the iconography of the information age—flowcharts, microchips, electrical circuits. Indeed, for Halley, geometry is not an abstract language that conveys ideal forms but a metaphor for contemporary urban social patterns. The overlaps and interruptions of his circuit-grids evoke contemporary systems and infrastructures that arrange and connect—but also isolate—people in modern society.

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