Legendary pop surrealist painter Robert Williams sprang from
the custom car culture of Southern California and the
roots of the Underground Comix movement. Though known
today as one of the world's most iconoclastic fine
artists, Williams was also, of course, first and
foremost a cartoonist. As a member of the legendary
ZAP collective, along with R. Crumb.
eventually transcended the world of comics by
cultivating his mastery of oil paints and forging a
career as the preeminent artist among the outsider Lobrow art
movement. This new school of imagery was a product of art that didnt fit comfortably into the accepted definition of fine art. It embraced some of the figurative graphics that formal art academia tended to reject: comic books, movie posters, trading cards, surfer art, hot rod illustration, to mention a few. influencing a generation of artists to
create without concern for the fine art world, held in
contempt by Williams - a feeling which had been
reciprocated in kind for years by the established fine
art community, although Williams' sheer mastery of his
craft has caused a grudging retreat - Williams
paintings now command tens of thousands of dollars
each in the gallery scene and the artist has a long
waiting list of potential buyers.
A painting student first at Los Angeles City College and later at the Chouinard Art Institute, Williams got his first break when he became the art director for legendary hot rod hero Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. With the rise of the counterculture in the late 1960's. Williams found a growing audience in the underground comic milieu that nurtured such figures as Robert Crumb, Victor Moscoso and S. Clay Wilson.
One of the originators of Zap Comix, Williams continues its' tradition of no-holds barred creative exploration. In 1994 Williams founded Juxtapoz magazine with a group of artists and collectors. The publication's mission statement was to present art that is provocative, technically adept and worthy of exposure.
William's work has been presented internationally on album covers and posters and in magazines. His exhibits include:
- "Zombie Mystery Paintings" at the Zomo Gallery in 1982
- "Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990's" at the Museum of Contemporary Art in
Los Angeles in 1992
- "Kustom Kulture" in 1993 at the Laguna Art Museum
- "Conceptual Realism: In the Service of the Hypothetical"
at Shafrazi Gallery in NYC and Cal State Northridge
- "Slang Aesthetics" at various galleries
"In 1987, I purchased my first Robert Williams painting,
"Li'l Lamby Pie". I was proud to own four of his paintings for 20 years (see below). I had to sell them due to a $13K plumbing bill, and an $18K credit card balance (due to 25% interest rates from slimy banks -
illegal usury in 49 states).
Selling my Robert's paintings was one of
my biggest regrets in life.
Mr. Williams' paintings now sell for $50,000 a piece.
Leonardo Di Caprio and Nicholas Cage are fans."
- Gary Cifra, Lines On Paper founder
"Li'l Lamby Pie and the Philistine Brothel Monger"
"The Brain That Thinks Holes Through Boiler Plate"
"Impervious To Chaos"