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.
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.