John Haley
1905 - 1991

Theme/Style – Modernism, Berkeley School, portraits, landscapes, Abstraction

Media – Oils, watercolors, gouaches, temperas, murals, sculpture, printmaking

Artistic Focus – The “Father” of the Berkeley School style of painting – a manifestation of American Regionalism that superimposed a modern aesthetic based on two-dimensional design – John Haley influenced an entire generation of UC Berkeley painting students with his Modernist gouaches that used large areas of color overlaid by thin black lines to outline shapes. His approach, whatever the medium, offered a graphic way of presenting the world, and employed a light line and a neat, precisely delicate hand, with his use of color more often expressing feeling rather than communicating form. Haley’s work as a Northern California artist often focused on urban and industrial themes. Throughout his career, Haley participated in, and often led, the profound changes that transformed European and American painting and sculpture in the 20th century.

Career Highlights –

• John Charles Haley was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1905, and trained at the Minneapolis School of Art before studying with Hans Hofmann in Munich and André Lhote in Paris.
• Haley came to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1930, and began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley – a post that he held for the next 42 years.
• Typical of Haley’s work in the 1930s were paintings of his own Richmond, California, neighborhood, including its storefronts, piers and gas tanks. Heavy industry, with workers as its protagonists, was an integral part of his art at the time.
• During the 1930s Haley exhibited with the San Francisco Art Association, and also at the San Francisco Museum of Art where he had a solo show in 1939; and in that same year he exhibited at San Francisco’s Golden Gate International Exposition.
• During World War II Haley joined the United States Navy, producing terrain models for invasion before shipping out to the South Pacific, where he was part of a photo reconnaissance interpretation unit.
• After the war, Haley’s work shifted from representational to Abstraction, and he began creating large-format abstract paintings, as well as abstract sculptures in wood and bronze.
• Haley continued to exhibit widely, with solo shows at UC Berkeley, the Richmond Art Center, and the de Young Museum in San Francisco; and was also included in exhibitions at the California Water Color Society, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the International Biennial in Sao Paulo, and New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
• John Haley resided in Richmond, California until his death in 1991.