PETER HALLEY. Interview by Giancarlo Politi.
Flash Art, No. 150. January - February 1990, pp. 84-87.

Giancarlo Politi: Someone like yourself, as intellectual, self-possessed and reflective, can youenjoy the act of painting itself?

Peter Halley: Oh, actually yes, that’s a really good point. I do like to paint and I’ve liked to paint ever since I was a teenager. Every body thinks I don’t make the paintings, but I do. At first I thought I might be the artist the kind of artist where somebody else  could make the paintings, but I do. I think that someone else would either make them too well or too badly. When I make them they’re not perfect; if someone else were to do it, they might do them so cleanly and precisely that the paintings would be different. I don’t like to paint difficult things where one has to workout shading or something like that, I like to paint flat surfaces and I like to paint mechanically. But it’ s really different from someone like Ryman, because a Ryman painting has so much sensibility. There’s something enjoyable about doing something simple, and in my case it’ s pretty mechanical or without reflection. I’ve always been interested in the kind of abstraction in which the artist’s way of making the thing has a lot to do with it--whether it’s Mondrian or Barnett Newman or Frank Stella. In particular Frank Stella has always fascinated me because his early work is so sloppy, the lines aren’t straight and the colors bleed, and yet it gives the work so much personality.

GP: You are also the theorist for your work. What is the relationship between theory, your writings and the work itself? 

PH: I’m not writing very much anymore, which seems kind of interesting to me. I set out to write in order to verbalize what l was trying to work out in the paintings of this kind. In a way I’ve always considered it as background information and a way of talking about specific phenomena in the culture. When I wrote about airports or highways it was a way of expressing my observations or reactions to those things, which I couldn’tdirectly depict in the paintings, which are a much more condensed or abstract project. What ‘s taken over for me, instead of writing are various kinds of projects, such as the one I did for you and the things I’m doing in printmaking. Those prints (referringto prints in the studio)are based on diagrams of computer systems in offices.  It’s a subject that interests me a lot but I can’t put it directly in my paintings because I want the paintings to be purely about a certain kind of space. In a print I can discuss it.

Giacinto Di Pietrantonio: Is there any influencebetween your interest inphilosophy and other cultural areas and your work?

PH: Actually I try to be very specific about this. I really can’t read pure philosophy. My entire interest is in critical theory and social theory, but somebody like Derrida or Heidegger is just beyond me. In fact I’m not even that interested in critical theory except as it relates to the visual world. The kinds of authors that I’ve been involved in are those that are trying to examine the spaceof our society, particularly Foucault,Debord, Baudrillard, and Virilio. It’s not so much a question of being influenced by them; these people are interested in the same things that I ‘m interested in, but they’re exploring it in one discipline and I’ m exploring it in another. In recent yearsit’s became apparent that Jean Baudrillard doesn’ t have much interest in the visual arts as we understand them, but that doesn’t bother me at all. He’s interested in what’s going on visually and spatially in our culture, and that’s what I’m interested in as well.

GP: Usually in your work there are some references to old masters such as Lohse, Albers…Helena Kontova:…or perhaps Max Bill….

GP: …or an Italianartist, Reggiani, or, generally speaking, to all of European constructivism.  Are these references conscious orunconscious, or is this just a coincidence?

PH: The people you mention are all European, that’s interesting. Most of my early training and education was here in New York, and a lot of the people I studied with did look towards Europe, so I might have a more European outlook than some other American artists. Albershas been a big issue for me. In the last ten or fifteen years I haven’t thought about him very much but when I was still a student I readthe Interaction of Colorandclearly his approach affected me a great deal.  It happened so long ago that it’s hard to remember. The artists that you mentioned posit an idea of a relationship between geometric abstraction and social theory, even Max Bill, and particularly Albers. Certainly that can be seen as a strong tendency in European art from the twenties right through the sixties off and on. So perhaps that’s the key to the relationship.

GP: What is the difference betweenyour work and European constructivism from the sixties, or artists like Ellsworth Kelly and Vasarely?

PH: Those movements in the sixties saw technology as a liberating thing. They thought that employing the latest in technology and abandoning tradition in favor of technological means would in itselfbe liberating. I think that at this point, 20 or 30 years later,we’re very far away from that. Probably the chief disillusionment of the sixties is the failure of our belief in technology: by 1970, that kind of technological optimism is almost gone. The same is true with neo-plasticism and constructivism---they also positioned both technology and rational geometry as an ideal that would allow society to rationally improve. I always say that the art was abstractbecause it described asituation that did not yet exist, that of a totalized, rationalized environment. People then imagined that when such an environment came into being it would be utopian. Iwould say that in 1990 we’ve reached a point in which that totalized situation almost does exist and it’s not utopia, it’s something you have to examine rather carefully.  But it’s also no longer the future, it’s the present, and in that sense it’s no longer idealist and abstract but rather real and dystopic. One of my particular concerns in terms of this process is the computer, the computer in a sense can be seen as the culmination of all Cartesian thought. Yet since so much information now goes into the computer, and the computer now mediates so much thought, I think we’re stuck with something that limitsthought or that controls thought in a way that’s rather troubling.

GP: In a way you represent the artist of the end of history . . .

PH: Actually, I’m very strongly attracted to this idea of the end of history; my 1982 article on Ross Bleckner was called “Painting at the End of History.” This idea of the end of history in the Hegelian sense is one we all have to come to terms with somehow or other. It’s not to say that the end of history is going to be replaced with some thing better (laughs),but history, as it exists in the modernist sense, from the enlightenment to the present, is something that is being increasingly challenged both in the culture and by intellectuals. It will be interestingto see what happens. I just don’t see how we can go on thinking about history in that traditional way. Those structures and lineages and categories just seem to me to be too discredited at this point.

GP: Yesterday I was talking with Jean-Christophe Amman from the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt…

PH: He’s one of my favorite people...

GP: He told me that maybe the strongest country right now in art is Germany, because it is the only country where attention is really paid to their post-war condition, the only Western post-war country. What is your opinion; do you think that important art can only come out of a post-war society, orin a society which has experienced a strong conflict?

PH: I would agree with that, however, for me it’s hard to read Germany right now as a particularly post-war society. To me part of the increase of creative and artistic activity in Europe in the 1980s has to do with the fact that I think at some point in the decade people were able to say “the war is over.” Jean-Christophe probably has a wider point of view than I, but what fascinates me about Europe in general is that we ‘re now really dealing with a post-post-war Europe, a Europe in which the reconstruction is completed and life can go on.

GP: You are thinking of the wall in Berlin, of thedivision of Germany in two,and this is certainly a major trauma for them, but I was referringto the fact that they still seem to live in a state of war. They still can’t believe in peacetime as their eternal condition…

PH: Actually that is a very real phenomenon but I wouldn’ t so much connect it with World War II. Rather, it’s one of those strange situations which developed after the war in which the historical idea of the nation/state begins to break down. Clearly, Germany as a nation/state is somewhat transformed or dismembered; it seems to me that some of the most interesting places in the world right now, be they chaotic, tragic places like Lebanon or strange constructs like Israel, are these kind of postnation/state entities. They arevery charged sites right now. Actually, there is a connection with American artists too; some of the people who I think aredoing the best work right now, like Haim Steinbach, Meyer Vaisman, or Saint Clair Cemin are the products of several different sequential cultures.

They were born one place and then they grew up someplace else and then they came to the United States, and so their view of culture is not that of a person in one place with one culture. Perhaps that’s another thing that’s developing in terms of the cultural outlook of artists today. You see it in Europe too, with someone going from the East to West Germany, or from Germany to Spain or what have you.

GP: And you don’t think that this internationalism corresponds in a way to a strong explosion of nationalism in politics and even in culture? I’m thinking for example of Russia, in which every region has its own culture, its own painting.  I’m sure that even Islamicnations are more or less expected to express their culture in visual art.

PH: That is perhaps another side of the same phenomenon, that localism could also be seen as a rebellion against the nation/state. One doesn’ t have the art of a specific country, onedoesn’t have French art, for example, one has art from a specific city.  It's very complicated. But, getting back to the subject of Germany, I would agree that it’s kind of a charged environment for many reasons, and I guess I would agree that the separation of what used to be nation/state perhaps is part of it. But there’s such a high degree of affluence in Germany and it’ s such a closed and perfect social web, one also wonders what the effectof that on art is.

GOP: Your work deals with abstraction, which originated in Europe, but your work also reflects American art, Pop art...

PH: Especially lately…

GOP: the use of fluorescent colors, also found in certain American minimalists, like Donald Judd...

PH: People often say that. But the confusion for meis that I always thought of artists like Frank Stella and Donald Judd and even Robert Smithson, as having an element of Pop art in their work. I often say that for this generation the interesting thing is that minimalism and Pop art canbe seen as part of the same thing; so I guess that’s why it’s not that difficult for me to be interested in Pop art and abstraction at the same time. You make an interesting point, though, in terms of two different traditions.

GOP: You seem to be a point of convergence between European and American trends.

PH: Well that’s very complimentary, and I like to think of it that way, because despite

a certain European intellectual outlook, I have spent quite a bit of time in various places  around the United States, and it’s always interesting to me. I seeJudd and Stella in very much the same way. With Donald Judd, there’s such a strong connection to Europe in the strategies he uses in terms of proportion and that sort of thing, and yet at the same time the plexiglass and candy-colored surfacescreate a technological connection to the United States.

UK: I wanted to ask you something about the colors, which are the most important element here.

GP: Why do you use colors, which are so difficult to reproduce?

PH: (laughs) Well you do a great job with them...

GP: But sometimes it’s difficult, my printer goes crazy with them, you are not a printer’s favorite artist(laughs).

HK: Are they industrial colors, used in industry, or are they usually used by painters too?

PH: Well in general, for the last eight or nine years I’ve used Day-Glo color, which is an industrial invention. It has a rather complex history because on the one hand it’s used commercially quite a bit, especially in advertising. On the other hand it’s also used functionally to warn people of things, for example, the police cars in London have a Day-Glo stripe on them. It has a cultural history also, that is connected both to the psychedelic and to Pop art: Andy Warhol and Frank Stella both used quite a bit of Day-Glo color. I began to use it because I wanted to make paintings that expressed a kind of light that was a technological light and not a natural light. I felt that by using Day-Glo colors there was no way that people could mistakemy work as having a naturalistic component. Lately things have gotten more complicated. Until the last year or two. I only used Day-Glo color and I very seldom mixed them. But I found that at a certain point I wasn’t as surprised by the Day-Glo colors as I used to be, and I began to get interested in using artist’s color, Day-Glo color, and various kinds or tints and mixtures all together. The point was really to use a wider range of materials to try to get an intensified effect. And so as of late the color has become less ideological but hopefully,visually, the new range can lead to further intensification.

GOP: Why is the stretcher of that thickness, setting the canvas rather distant from the wall? 

PH: That stalled right away and the idea was to establish a plane, on which the activity in the paintings would take place, that was very separate from the plane of the wall. The idea was to project the painting into relief so that it would have a kind of space projected forward from the real space that it was hung in.

GP: Is the thickness always the same?

PH: They’ve gotten a little thicker as the years have gone by. But rather than experimenting with a lot of different things I’ve tried to build in a group of elements that I use consistently that work for me.  In other words rather than try a different width each time, I’ve come up with a width that I think works. At some point that width might no longer do what I want it to and I would change. That happened to me a year or so ago, but the idea of experimenting with a little bit less or a little bit more doesn’t really appeal to me.

GP: Are you considering working in sculpture?

PH: Hmm... well actually I’m experimenting with the idea of low relief, because I’ve always considered the paintings to have arelief element in terms of the Roll-a-Tex texture and now also the raised conduits, I’m kindof working towards a greater expression of that idea of low relief. But what isnormally thought of as free standing “sculpture” has never appealed to me, because I’m more interested in the world of intellectual or diagrammatic projection rather than in real spaces.  One of the basic premises of my work is that the flat two-dimensional, diagrammatic space of our culture is more important than the three-dimensional objects in it.

GP: But I thought I saw a multiple of yours which was in a way three-dimensional…

PH: Yes, but in the sense of relief. I made that multiple as an effort to explore an exaggeration of the relief element of the paintings, rather than to get into something different. By sculpture I usually think of something that exists in the real world in three-dimensions and that’s something I’ve always tried to avoid.

GP: Could your work be seen as flat sculpture, and how do you view three-dimensional painting?

PH: I like the idea of thinking of these as flat sculptures (laughs). I find that one of the strongest formal trends in painting today is the idea of three-dimensional painting whether practiced by Elizabeth Murray or Stella or someone like Meyer Vaisman.The fact that they’ve moved into three-dimensionalspace and are able to do all kinds of fantastic things with it I find very interesting. But given my specific concerns I have to approach it rather carefully. The way I’ ve approached it is, again, more with a concern with low relief--what is in front of something else in a very narrow kind of space. When you say a flat sculpture I think my paintings could be seen as a sculpture of a space about an inch thick, kind of like ants in an ant farm. Do they have ant farms in Italy?

GP: Yes...(laughs).

PH: Maybe there’s sculpture in that.

GP: Is your painting always what you expected at the beginning, or during the execution is there some emotion or some ideas or some weakness or something that would change the painting?

PH: Oh yes, I like to emphasize that both in the making of an individual painting and the movement from painting to painting my work is not at all programmatic. I’ve tried to contrast what I do with somebody like Sol LeWitt who comes up with a series of rules about what will take place and then carries out these operations very objectively. In contrast to that, as mechanistic or repetitive as my work may seem the changes in it nevertheless come from subjective reactions on my part rather than from a programmatic demand like “now I’ll make a green painting, and then I’ll make blue one.” In this, I really part company with minimalism and programmatic art. It’s all very subjective; in general I extrapolate from that. Even though one is dealing with a rational, totalized world the best way to understand that world is through one’s objective, rational analysis. That to me the great lesson of Michel Foucault who was able to my mind to teach us so much what has happened in our culture but who went about it almost like James Joyce, in this kind of stream of consciousnessway.

HK: During the execution of a work, do you alter your original project?

PH: No, a little bit I might. To begin with, the drawing or study is usually made very quickly and automatically. I don’t want to use the word subconscious or unconscious because they’re suchcharged terms, but the image itself is an automatic one arrived at very quickly through  a process of making drawings in sketch books until finally something kindof emerges that I’m interested in. Because of the physical nature of the work I haveto pretty much have an idea of what it’s goingto look like before I order a canvas to begin painting. But it often happens that it doesn’t look quite the way I thought it would and I’ll send the canvas back and shortenit three inches or something in order to get at that mental image better. And there’s a great deal of fine tuning of the color. On a formal level the big problem is you have a group of colors that you want to work with and that give you what you want in terms of feeling or in terms of light, but then you have to make it work spatially as well so that everything holds its plane.

GDP: You’ve discussed the intellectual content of your work, but I find it is also very emotional, because of your use of color to express emotional reactions.

PH: I wouldn’t separate the two, and I’ve always claimed that mine is a subjective, affective program. The word “emotional” is a little strong for me because it implies too many traditional things, but my work is about subjective reactions. Even though the elementsthatI use don’t change too much from year to year, at different times the work canstill have a very different emotional feeling. A year or two agomy work was very quiet and still and static and many or the colors were dark or almost monochromatic. But over the last year and a half somehow my emotional response in the work changed. I see the newer workas much more humoristic, or Pop or – I like to use the word absurdist. Where the conduits are going or ending up or coming from is less clear and their purpose seems to be more obscure, more ambiguous.

GP: You use color now more and more in an illusionistic way, like the colors in Pop-Art, which disturb both the eye and the mind. Is this a new perspective?

PH: Actually, I thought the first paintings were like that when they were all red or all Day-Glo orange or yellow or whatever. So the problem for me was that after eight years, if I looked at Day-Glo red, I wasno longer disturbed and so I hadto figure out a new way of disturbing myself (laughs).

GP: I mean those reds and oranges, pinks, I can’t look as them for very long...

PH: Oh, thank you (laughs)

GDP:They are like Dan Flavin's work, the vertical lines, the light...

PH: Sometime I like to joke around and say it’s a bit of a technical problem like, if you make cars, how do you make acar that’ll go faster. Or if you make paintings how can you make one where the light is more intense and strange?

GDP: You said that these prints (referring to flow-chart-type prints on the wall) are a kind of departure from the bigger works, or a kind of program for them.

PH: The research for this was done a year and a half ago. We went to the Business Library of the New York Public Library and gotout all the diagrams of computer stuff. I always get a little upset when people think that I’m making up the extreme thing that I say aregoing on in our culture. I began to look at these diagrams and I found phrases like“collision circuit,” “character generator,” “final attribute circuit,” “priority circuit,” that were unself-consciouslydescribing the kind of universe I had claimed existed out there.  So in a way these prints exist as footnotes, rather than as a program for the painting. Some of them arereally hilarious. This actually is a diagram for a robotic factory, and here’s a robot station, with the attributes of the robot broken up into speech, vision, transportand arm manipulation. This other one is a flow chart divided into station, cell, factory, process, controller, security,  all theway up to corporate headquarters. These diagrams seem to so precisely describe the kind of organizational pace that I am interested in that I think of them almost as a kind of evidence.

HK: So this is related to your recent work, this kind of diagrams…

PH: It didn’t formally inspire the recent work, it just issomething that I’m interested in at the same time. The paintingsinvolve trying to make a space that I find tobe the dominant or representative space of our society.  Some of the other projects that I get involved with seem tobe about re searching what the different aspects of that system are. The fact that the computer system diagrams correspond so closely to that space gives a specific example of how it operates out in the real world.

HK: Could you tell us a little bit of your story from the beginning? How did the first painting come to be, I mean the first abstract, Day-Glo painting, how did you develop this kind of idea?

PH: Let me try to trace that carefully… I guess during the 1970s I was interested in the relationship betweengeometry and nature. Like many other artists I imagined that one could posit a connection between ideal geometric forms and an order that one might find in nature. Around 1980 I began to feel disillusioned with that kind of structuralist connection between idealist platonic form and the natural world. At that time I moved to New York and to feel psychologically affected by the kind of totalized urban environment that one has in Manhattan where the phenomenon we call nature, for the most part, is excluded.  I began to try to come to terms with that situation in my work.  I wanted to start to work with what I thought the quintessential idealist form, the square, which had both a general, intellectual history and a specific history within modernism.  I wanted to say two things; first of all that geometry existed in real pace, and that’s why I put Roll-a-tex on the square it could become something architectural or something physical. Secondly I wanted to make the square something no longer ideal, because I imagined it as a space of confinement, and so I put bars on it and it became a prison. Having started to at geometry as confinement or segmentation, the next thing I began to think about was how movement was controlled in this kind of spaceand the kinds of connections that take place underground, the way telephone wires or electric wires in an urban environment travel below the ground. I began to think bout hooking up the squares, which I began to call cells, with each otheror with the outside through this image of an underground conduit. As I worked with that over period of a couple of years I began to feel that it was quite a succinct way of expressing the space of our culture. Ifelt it was worth continuing to explore over a period of time, to see what I would find out about the space and how I would react psychologically to it. But I also felt it was very important not to elaborate on that relationship unnecessarily, in other words not to make the cell into a house or into a micro-chip, or into anything too specific, because the whole basis of the system is that model precedes reality. Whether it’s a house  or a car or an office or hospital bed they all conform to the same model, so that the painting couldnot really depict any specific application of the model but only the model itself.

GP: As a student, in your first experiences as an artist, were you always working just with geometric images?

PH: Not always, but to a large extent. For whatever reason, we think of geometry as rational form. But for certain people, myself among them,it has an unconscious strength ora strong unconsciousmeaning.Clearly I began to work with geometric form beforeI decided on this meaning for it. I think that I’m psychologically drawn to geometric form and that mydevelopment as an artist was to discover, to make conscious, what geometric form meant for me.

GP: I would like to know your opinion, as a convinced rationalist, about how successful artists like you or your friends take with the enormous pressurefrom the market, the media, the explosion of prices, the requests by museums and private galleries and private collectors. How do you feel; how can you defend yourself, if you want to defend yourself, for instance your private space, your private life? Do you still have time to read, to spend with friends, or is your life programmed around work?

PH: Well, on a personal level it’s always difficult because of the demands both in terms of the outside world and the internal demands of one’s work. There’s no doubt that that’ s a difficult situation. I think this has all developed more gradually than one thinks. I remember reading in the early 1970s that Richard Serra said he thought about his work 16 hours a day; you can’t think about work much more than that. Eventhen artists were busy going back and forth between the United States and Europe a lot. There’s no doubt that contemporary art is becoming more popular, I think it’s also been a gradual process since the 1960s. Its popularity is generally nice but it worries me in one sense, in that when something becomes very popular it tends to become diluted.  As contemporary art finds such a wide audience around the world it troubles me that the extreme kinds of work may be excluded. I always use the example of Vito Acconci’s Seed Bed, which is a very provocative piece.  It’s very hard to imagine an artist being able to make a piece like Seed Bed today, and have it be at the center of a dialogue the way Acconci’s piece was in 1972, or whenever he made it.

HK: Why do you think it couldn’t be a center, because the cultural climate is different, or has the art world changed so much or has the appreciation of art changed?

PH: Clearly it’s a more conservative moment. Referring simply to the popularity of contemporary art, what I see as the major drawback is that the more popular something becomes, like the extreme example of American TV, the more it has to be completely banal. I think with a broader and larger audience the temptation is to be more careful, to only allow things to take place or to become known that will not offend people or will not turn people off.

HK: But don’t you think that the art audience, although it’s much larger today, is always art people that are interested anyhow? Even if it’s much more popular I think mostly what is happening is that the art world is enlargingin a way; the people are often much more sophisticated.

PH: That’s true. It would be a positive thing as the world -- well not the whole world but as the West -- becomes more affluent, more people had the time to be interested in good things.

GP: How do you judge this moment in New York, that I find very political, and very ideological in art and in the culture? In a moment when the ideologies have declined in culture, philosophy, and politics, inart I still find some radical ideology like that of 1968 or 1970.

PH: Have you? I’m pleased to hear that.I myself have been a bit disappointed by the lack of ideological debate among artist as of late. But the fact that you sensed it, tome seems very positive.

GP: Yes but everybody complains about this -- me, Jean-Christophe Amman, young writers, young artists -- but it’s strange because it’s a very radical moment here in New York.

GDP: Perhaps art, beingthe avant-garde, is like an indication of the direction things will take in the future, even in other fields.

PH: Well I hope so. Despite all the corruption and impurities about what we call the art world, I defend it insofar as it’s been the place where therehas been about assustainedan intellectual debate about the meaning of Western culture as any other place in this culture. You can’t say thatthat kind of debate has existed for 70 years in poetry or in drama or what have you. But in the visual arts since cubism, at least constructivism, there’s been a constant debate, whether it’s social or psychological about all these questions of meaning. In that sense it seems like a positive thing. Especially in the post-war era, the debate about the nature of culture, and the nature of what a human being is, has been violent within the visual art, from abstract expressionism to Pop to conceptualism. These are all extreme positions.

GP: You travel very often now to Europe; in your opinion, what is the main difference between the European, or German artists or French artists, and the American, I mean right now, among young artists?

PH: Well I think Europe’s a better place to be an artist, I can tell you that much (laughs), at least in practical terms.

GP: It’s funny, that’s what European artists think about America, that this is the place to be.

PH: Oh really? (laughs) I like the fact that people can have a growing career there, or work and kind of survive as artists for a while, without it either having to be feast or famine. Is that not true?

GP: I think even in New York, you can survive as an artist, I mean how did you survive before you became famous?

PH: Well people survive but they suffer a great deal, literally, physically, with the kind of physical condition of the city. Perhaps younger people in Europe suffer as well but New York is be coming an increasingly cruel place.

GP: I can imagine...was this your experience as a young artist?

PH: Well yes, as a young person. I mean the simple fact of health insurance, for example if you’re an artist in Germany you can be as poor as can be but if you have appendicitis, you can still have your appendix taken out. In the United States, in New York, Lord knows what would happen to you. The hospital would chase you for money, it’s a disaster.

GP: Who buys your paintings – collectors, dealers?  Do you know who is buying your work, or are you just the producer? Do youcontrol the life of your works? 

PH: At first I did, for the first couple of years. But since I began to work with major international galleries they pretty much tell me what to do (laughs). If one did it otherwise then that would have to become the subject of one’s work. To some extent my work is on the idea there’ s a possibility of a progressive bourgeoisie, that those with the funds to support culture will support something that will result in a higher level of consciousness about the social. Perhaps that’s a big “if” but I think almost everyone in the art world is betting on that. Didn’t Marx say that the bourgeoisie was the only revolutionary class?  There are different kinds of factions within the bourgeoisie and I think for the last century or so those involved in the support of contemporary art have tended to be the progressive bourgeoisie, so that’s what I’m hoping for.

HK: By “progressive bourgeoisie” do you mean a necessarily leftist-oriented bourgeoisie?

PH: In the sense that the left might be identified with this effort to reveal the nature of conditions in the social, to make it conscious.

GP: Do you like to keep your work, or do you not really care? Do you feel a kind of attachment to them, physically, or not?

PH: I keep few of them but they’re so hard to take care of, so in a way I’d rather let someone else worry about them. But I like to collect other people’s work. You have to be very wealthy to take care of my paintings, I can’t manage it (laughs).

Giancarlo Politi and Helena Kontova are the Editors of Flash Art, Giacinto di PIetrantonio is Associate Editor.

1. This conversation took place in Peter Halley’s New York studio on October 30th, curiously only a week or so before the official opening of the Berlin wall. Had it taken place just two days later, perhaps the discussion would have resulted quite differently.