Born on March 2, 1943, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Robert Williams is a well-known painter and founder of Juxtapoz Art and Culture Magazine. Williams studied painting at Los Angeles City College and at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, California.
Early in his career, Williams designed containers for the Weyehaeuser Corporation and was a designer for Black Belt magazine. In 1965, he became art director for Ed “Big Daddy” Roth – the artist and cartoonist who created the hot-rod icon Rat Fink and other characters. In the late 1960’s, Williams joined the Zap Comix collective of artists, a non-conformist, anti-establishment movement that included R. Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Spain Rodriguez, Rick Griffin, Gilbert Shelton, and Victor Moscoso.
Williams published his first book, The Lowbrow Art of Robert Williams in 1979. The title of the book was meant as a statement on the current “Highbrow” tone of the art world and how Williams’ work did not fit in. Of the term “Lowbrow” Williams denies that it was ever meant to define the movement, but was merely used in the title of his first collection. He says “There was never any intention to make the title of my book the name of a fledgling art movement but, over time, that seems to be what has transpired.” In his 2008 lecture at the Oakland Museum of California, Williams stated: “The Art movement I go by is Conceptual Realism.”
In 1994 Williams founded Juxtapoz Art and Culture 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”. “Today, Juxtapoz is widely credited with being the unifying force that drew together the various satellite art movements like street art and Pop Surrealism, into one coherent movement of “alternative art” that evolved during the late ’90s and early ’00s.” The magazine currently has one of the highest circulations of any art magazine in the United States.
Williams’ work has been exhibited around the world including Helter Skelter: L.A., Art in the 1990s at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 1992,the 1993 exhibition Kustom Kulture at the Laguna Art Museum, as well at the 2010 Whitney Biennial. Aside from his first book, Williams has published “Malicious Resplendence”, “Zombie Mystery Painting”, “Visual Addiction”, “Views from a Tortured Libido”, “Through Prehensile Eyes”, and “Conceptual Realism: In the Service of the Hypothetical”.
Williams currently lives in the Chatsworth, California with wife, artist Suzanne Williams. For more information about Robert Williams, visit RobertWilliamsStudio.com.
Sources: Bein Art, Wikipedia, Arrested Motion, Artnet, Lowbrow Art World