All Saints Ball, 1977
Acrylic and charcoal on canvas
40 x 35 1/2 in (101.6 x 90.17 cm)

Over a sixty-year career, William T. Wiley (b. 1937 in Bedford, IN, d. 2021 in Novato, CA) has addressed some of the most urgent social, political and environmental issues with a distinctive blend of wit and wisdom. His work is densely layered with complex riddles, steeped in profound personal meaning. This particular work, All Saints Ball, features a raw canvas filled with elaborate graphite drawing, shockingly overlaid with a red circle of acrylic. This work illustrates Wiley’s longstanding aim to elevate drawing to the stature of painting and was included in the artist’s first major traveling retrospective (1979–81).

One of the most significant and influential artists associated with the Funk movement, Wiley has often defied art historical labels, charting a course entirely his own. Alongside Robert Arneson, Wayne Thiebaud and Roy De Forest, Wiley helped form one of the most experimental and widely revered art programs in the country at UC Davis, teaching there from 1962 to 1973.