After completing an MFA in 1970 at Southern Methodist University, Alexander moved to Houston and became a member of the art faculty of the University of Houston. In the late 70s, Alexander left Texas for New York, first SoHo and later Amagansett on the south shore of Long Island. The artist settled there in an 18th century farmhouse on three acres of land by the coast. In late 2007, Alexander had a major retrospective of his work first shown at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. and then in spring 2008 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. In 2012, “One World, Two Artists: John Alexander and Walter Anderson” was exhibited at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.