What's It All Mean: William T. Wiley in Retrospect

Joann Moser, with contributions by John Yau and John G. Hanhardt

Over a period of fifty years, William T. Wiley has distinguished himself by creating an extensive body of work that challenges the precepts of mainstream art. Making art that is at once witty and serious, topical and discursive, Wiley’s practices range from traditional drawing, watercolor, acrylic painting, sculpture, printmaking and film, to performance, constructions of assorted materials, and more recently, printed pins and tapestries. Wiley enjoyed great success early in his career with international exhibitions and a worldwide audience in the 1960s and early 1970s. Yet as “minimal” and “cool” prevailed on the East Coast, he was often referred to as a California “funk” regionalist. What’s It All Mean: William T. Wiley in retrospect includes essays by Joann Moser, John Yau, and John G. Hanhardt that place the artist’s works within a biographical context, assess Wiley’s distinctive use of language, and reflect on Wiley’s films of the 1970s.

Reviews in Brief

“At last we have a book that reveals the enigmatic genius of William Wiley, an artist who has persisted in these cynical times to probe the painful and preposterous aspects of our society with his own blend of satiric wit, compassion, and poetry.”
—Susan Landauer, author of The San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism


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Product Details

Copublished with University of California Press
Year Published
226 pp.: ill. (120 color)
  • Hardcover: 978-0-520-26120-4
  • Softcover: 978--0-520-26121-1
9 1211 14 in.


An image of 16 different yellow moons with different reactions on their faces.
What’s It All Mean: William T. Wiley in Retrospect
October 1, 2009January 24, 2010
Enter the world of artist William T. Wiley, who has created a distinctive body of work during a 50-year career that addresses critical issues of our time.