Born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, William Bailey became a painter in styles ranging from abstraction to super-real. He earned his B.F.A. and M.F.A. at Yale University and studied with Josef Albers and also had an Alice Kimball English traveling scholarship.
From 1962 to 1969, he taught at Indiana University, and from
1969, was a professor of art at Yale University.
Bailey picks up again tenaciously and full of faith the threads of a visual concern, of an aspect of the life of forms, that takes place over a long period of time and that runs as a current beneath the surface of contemporary art, emerging sometimes as a desire for order and formal beauty, even in contemporary expressions seemingly most in revolt against the past. In Bailey this formal aspect manifests itself as an explicit reference to historical sources, mainly in the need to fill the emptiness of space with the fullness of objects and with the fullness of space between objects through the severe dialectic of formal relations.
William Bailey is Professor of Art Emeritus at Yale University. He is a member of The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and a Member of the Board, Smithsonian Archives of American Art from 2000 to the present. He is a trustee for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation from 1970 to the present. Bailey has an extensive exhibition history, and his works appear in numerous public and private collections including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; among many others. Bailey has shown in New York since the late 1960’s. In 2006 a traveling exhibition of works on paper was shown at the Philbroook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK, Alexander Hogue Gallery, University of Tulsa, OK and Wichita Art Museum, KS.