William Halsey (1915-1999)

Untitled (oil) Private Collection

A native Charlestonian, Halsey received his formal art training at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts.  Shortly after completion of his schooling in Boston, he received a Paige Fellowship to travel in Mexico. This started his love affair with the colors and textures of the land. He took these influences and returned to Charleston, S.C., teaching and painting until his death in 1999.  Exhibition of his work has been included in the nation's leading museums, such as the Metropolitan, The Whitney and MOMA, as well as venues abroad.

Growing up in Charleston impoverished and neglected, surrounded by flaking plaster, mortarless brick walls, old tiles and rotting wood, I saw them as delight rather than decay.  Ever since, I have carried on a love affair with fragments, shards, ruins, bits of civilizations.  This is not simply nostalgia.  A large part of it is visual-tactile pleasure derived from color, broken edges, worn surfaces produced by time and weather.  The enigmatic quality of things not quite complete, the mystery of symbols not entirely understood.  Later, when I traveled, I developed an enthusiasm for Mayan culture, saw Egyptian wall paintings, Etruscan ceramics, African sculpture, Peruvian textiles, the stones of Machu-Picchu.  To me they were at the same time excitingly dissimilar and very much related, and I related them to the Charleston of my childhood. So the more I travel, the further I have gone, the more I have come back to the same place and person. 

—William Halsey