For over 50 years, Wiley has distinguished himself as an artist who challenges the precepts of mainstream art. His work is not readily classifiable into any movement or stylistic trend. Combining humble materials, found objects, personal symbols, enigmatic texts, and references to art history, popular culture, and current events, he has developed a distinctive style that allows for variety, invention, and subtlety.


Wiley’s practices range from drawing, painting in watercolor and acrylic, sculpture, and printmaking to film and performance. One of the defining hallmarks of his work are the texts and wordplay that accompany virtually every piece he makes. These range from stream-of-consciousness rambles to pointed opinions and critiques, accompanied by inflections of humor through the use of puns, sarcasm, malapropisms, and double entendres. Joann Moser, curator of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, writes “Wiley has created a body of work that anticipated such important developments as installation art, audience participation, a revival of interest in drawing, as well as the use of humor and language as significant aspects of contemporary art.”

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