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William Bailey

October 22 – December 3, 2022

Musing (2) (Standing Figure in Window), n.d., Pencil on paper
Imaginary Studio II (Rome)
Musing (4) (Standing Figure with Cell Phone), n.d., Pencil on paper
Afternoon in Umbria III

Press Release

“I wanted to paint in a way that the painter, the ‘I,’ disappeared into the work,

rather than having the work show my own skill or bravura or whatever.  I felt strongly,

 and still do, that it should be the work that speaks and not the painter.”  ~WB 2003 


On Saturday, October 22nd, Betty Cuningham Gallery will open an exhibition celebrating the life and art of William Bailey. The artist passed away on April 13, 2020, three months after the close of his retrospective, Looking Through Time, at the Yale University Art Gallery. A private memorial for the artist will be held on Friday, October 21st at the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The current exhibition marks Bailey’s eighth show with the Gallery which will host an opening reception (15 Rivington Street, NYC) on Saturday, October 22nd from 4 – 6pm.


Bailey’s work divides into two lines of concentration: his still-lifes and figures; all are from his imagination rather than observation. The exhibition will include selected paintings, works on paper and prints. Among the works are two major figure paintings, Imaginary Studio II (Rome) and Afternoon in Umbria III.   Also on view are two rare pencil on paper still-life drawings as well as twelve small, intimate “musings”.  While the large still life drawings are finished works, the pencil on graph paper musings are studies, which provide a unique glimpse into the artist’s creative process.

William Bailey was born in 1930 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  He attended the University of Kansas, School of Fine Arts. After serving in the United States Army during the Korean War, he studied under Josef Albers at Yale University where he received both his B.F.A. and M.F.A degrees. He has been exhibiting in New York since the late 1960’s. Bailey’s work can be seen in a host of public and private collections, most notably the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. Bailey is the subject of three monographs, William Bailey by Mark Strand and William Bailey by John Hollander and Guiliano Briganti and William Bailey Looking through Time, by Mark D.Mitchell and John Yau accompanied by an interview with Cifford Ross, published by the Yale University Art Gallery, fall of  2020; Yale University Press, published in Fall of 2020.


The exhibition is accompanied by an online viewing room and will remain on view through December 3, 2022.