Illustration Art Gallery

The very best from the wide, sometimes overlooked, world of illustration art, including original artwork for book illustrations and covers, comic books and comic strips, graphic novels, magazines, film animation cels, newspaper strips, poster art, album covers, plus superb fine art reproductions and high quality art prints.

Our gallery brings together artists from all over the world and from many backgrounds, including fantasy, horror, romance, science fiction, education, sport, history, nature, technology, humour, glamour, architecture, film & tv, whimsy, even political satire and caricature.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Robert Williams

Robert Williams is recognized as a fine artist, despite the terminology he and others have applied to his work as "lowbrow art". Williams has explained how the term came to be when, as an underground comix artist working on Zap Comix, Gilbert Shelton — a fellow ZAP Comix contributor and part-owner of underground publishing company Rip-Off Press — suggested collecting Williams paintings into book form. Williams tells the story that "No other publishing company anywhere would dare to undertake such an unorthodox project. It was decided at that time, since no authorized art institutions would recognize this form of art, to call my book The Lowbrow Art of Robt. Williams."

Robert L. Williams was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on 2 March 1943, the son of Robert Wandell Williams and his wife Betty Jane (nee Spink). Williams's father owned a drive-in restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama, popular with hot-rodders, which instilled an early fascination with cars in the young Robert. Williams had a generally delinquent childhood, involved in high jinx and gangs and was expelled from school in 9th grade.

At the age of 20, he travelled to Los Angeles and studied art at the Los Angeles City College, working on The Collegiate, the school paper. Here he met Suzanne Chorna, whom he married in 1964. After briefly attending The Chouinart Art Institute, Williams worked as a designer before joining the studio of Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth, custom car builder and creator of Rat Fink, an icon amongst hot-rodders.

In 1968 he joined the close-knit group of underground artists known as the ZAP Comix Collective, creating the character Coochy Cooty in ZAP Comix. At the same time he was also producing paintings and prints under the banner 'Super Cartoon'; much of this early work was subsequently collected in The Lowbrow Art of Robt. Williams (1979). During the early years of punk rock, Williams' 'Zombie Mystery Paintings' proved popular with underground clubs and avant-garde galleries and were later collected (1986), where Robert Crumb, in his introduction, described them as "vivid American nightmares — a gaudy carnival midway of our seething, barbaric collective subconscious ... coarse, crude, yeah, ugly even ... they are also intense mind-boggling, eyeball feasts, revelations, visions, captured dreams."

Williams subsequent paintings (often signed Robt. Wms.) became more detailed and are often characterised by their vividly coloured psychedelic visuals incorporating realistic or comic vignettes His work has been further collected in Visual Addiction (1989), Views from a Tortured Libido (1993), Malicious Resplendence (1997), Hysteria in Remission (2002), Through Prehensile Eyes (2005) and other titles. Williams has also painted  album covers, notably for Guns N' Roses, t-shirts, shoes, prints and posters. He has staged a number of one-man shows at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York, including Conceptual Realism (2009).

Williams received a Lifetime Achievement award at the Beyond Eden Fair in 2010. He has been involved in the publishing of a number of  publications promoting 'lowbrow' art, including ART? Alternatives and Juxtapoz. An essayist and lecturer, he was the subject of the 2010 documentary film Robert Williams Mr Bitchin.

Examples of Robert Williams's artwork can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.

1 comment:

  1. This guy is my freakin' idol! Hope i become like him.