Conceptual Realism: In the Service of the Hypothetical is a catalog accompanying Robert Williams’ Fall 2009 solo exhibition of new work at New York City’s prestigious Tony Shafrazi Gallery; the show will continue on in 2010 to galleries in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and elsewhere. (See photos of the NYC opening reception and exhibit at the Arrested Motion blog.) The book features approximately 25 new paintings, complete with essays on each piece by the artist, insights into the process behind each painting (including sketches, underpaintings, etc.), photos of sculptures in progress, and other surprises, including an introduction by painter, tattoo artist and international tattoo cultural advocate Don Ed Hardy.
The alternative art movement of the late 20th Century found its most congealing participant in one of America’s most opprobrious and maligned underground artists, the painter, Robert Williams. It was Williams who brought the term “lowbrow” into the fine arts lexicon, with his groundbreaking 1979 book, The Lowbrow Art of Robt. Williams. It was from this point that the seminal elements of West Coast Outlaw culture slowly started to aggregate.
Williams pursued a career as a fine arts painter years before joining the art studio of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth in the mid-1960s. And in this position as the famous custom car builder’s art director, he moved into the rebellious, anti-war circles of early underground comix. In 1968, Williams linked up with the infamous San Francisco group that piloted the flagship of the miscreant cartoon world, Zap Comix. Along with Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, S. Clay Wilson, Spain Rodriguez, Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin, Williams learned to function as an artist outside the walls of conventional art.
Known as the “artist’s artist,” in early punk rock art shows held in after-hours clubs, Williams soon pioneered the first break-away art movement in California since the Eucalyptus School’s estrangement from Impressionism in the late 1920s. His bold use of underground cartoon figuration, paired with harshly contrasted psychedelic colors set a style that was an easily recognizable hallmark throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Williams’ new paintings, on display in Conceptual Realism, take the viewer into the world of subjective theory — a mock realm of violated graphic physics, and the next logical step into abstract thought.
• List:Details magazine names Ghost World #10 on The 25 Greatest Gen X Books of All Time: "This caustically funny duo-tone tale follows the iconic cat-eyed adolescent Enid Coleslaw in her quest to find meaning, or at least cruel humor, in an age where everything's disposable."
• Review: "Strange Suspense collects dozens of Ditko stories from the 1950’s... Almost a decade before Ditko moved to Marvel, these stories bear his unmistakable style. His fine line work and flair for the abstract that would serve him so well on Doctor Strange particularly, is on full display. ... If you only know Ditko for his work at Marvel or later at DC, here is the chance to explore Early Ditko, unconstrained by editors or the Comics Code. While all of this work is marvelous, clearly Ditko is best at home in horror where he could let his imagination run wild, creating monsters and demons and the things that go bump in the night. Rediscover Ditko today!" – Tim Janson, Newsarama
• Review: "Brian Kane, author of the [Definitive Prince Valiant] Companion and surely the world’s foremost authority on the strip and its creator, Hal Foster, has once again done a herculean amount of work, and Fantagraphics has once again clothed that work in a sturdy, pretty volume. Prince Valiant hasn’t been treated this well since the ersatz King of England sang his praises. Those unfamiliar with the character – a young man who finds adventure, fame, and even love at the court of the legendary King Arthur – will find here all the background information they could ever want... But even long-time Prince Valiant fans will find plenty to fascinate them in this volume." – Khalid Ponte, Open Letters
• Review: "Delphine is a morbid interpretation of the symbology of fairy tales resounding with echoes of unrequited love and abandonment. This is perhaps Sala’s darkest and most intricate story ever – impressive in its nuance and ever shifting emotions. One can only hope that it is not ignored." – Ng Suat Tong, The Comics Journal
• Interview: From TCJ.com: "Every weekday from now until December 25, we’ll be posting a conversation between cartoonists from The Comics Journal #300, complete and online! In today’s installment, it’s a chat between L’Association publisher Jean-Christophe Menu and Kramers Ergot publisher Sammy Harkham."
The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that we've had Robert Williams's new art book/exhibit catalog Conceptual Realism: In the Service of the Hypothetical (both softcover and signed hardcover editions) available for pre-order for a couple of weeks; we've postponed our announcement until we had all of our previews in place. So here you go! Download an exclusive 8-page PDF excerpt right here, and view a photo & video slideshow preview of the hardcover edition embedded below. Click here if it is not visible, and/or to view it larger in a new window (recommended — and we also have a slideshow of the softcover). This book is scheduled to be in stock and ready to ship in a couple of weeks (both editions will be released simultaneously) and in stores right around the same time (subject to change).
The November issue of JUXTAPOZ is out, and it's pretty much all Robert Williams, all the time, promoting his new show at Tony Shafrazi Gallery, which opened on Halloween night, as well as our art book/catalog of the show, CONCEPTUAL REALISM: IN THE SERVICE OF THE HYPOTHETICAL, which is available exclusively right now at the Shafrazi gallery, but will be available everywhere else in about a month (and also available for preorder on our own website very soon). The issue is a great one for fans of Robert, the highlight being a particularly lively talk between Williams and Don Ed Hardy (who also wrote an excellent introduction for CONCEPTUAL REALISM), as well as a meaty selection of several paintings and their accompanying essays by Wms. from our book. But all of this post is really just an excuse to publish this spread from the mag:
On your way to the Robert Williams exhibit opening at Tony Shafrazi Gallery in NYC this weekend, why not stop and pick up one of 13 pairs of custom, hand-painted Robert Williams Vans sneakers? The above promotional video, passed along by our own Lord of the Lowbrow, Larry Reid, provides all the details (and a fascinating look inside a Chinese sneaker factory)! And if those are a bit out of your range, don't worry, there will be another, less-exclusive Williams Vans release for Fall/Winter, too.
Robert Williams' solo show In The Service of the Hypothetical opens Oct. 31, at Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York City, and the opening will feature the premiere of Robert's new book from Fantagraphics, CONCEPTUAL REALISM: IN THE SERVICE OF THE HYPOTHETICAL. The book features over 25 new paintings, complete with essays on each piece by the artist, insights into the process behind each painting (including sketches, underpaintings, etc.), and many other surprises, including an introduction by painter, tattoo artist and international tattoo cultural advocate Don Ed Hardy.
The show runs through Jan 31. Art Nouveau Mag has a preview. The show features new paintings, drawings, and for the first time, sculptures. The show will continue in February at Cal State Northridge.
All this week and next week we're bringing you a sneak peek at our Fall 2009 - Winter 2010 schedule of releases! Today's excerpt from our latest book distributor's catalog includes a couple of books that we just teased you on yesterday — now you can get the full scoop on those plus one more: Johnny Ryan's original graphic novel Prison Pit; Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons; and Conceptual Realism: In the Service of the Hypothetical, the new art book from Robert Williams. (Note that all the info in this catalog is subject to change along the way to the books' release, including release dates, prices, cover art, book specs, etc.) Click here to download the PDF!
Register and Login to receive full member benefits, including members-only special offers, commenting privileges on Flog! The Fantagraphics Blog, newsletters and special announcements via email, and stuff we haven't even thought of yet. Membership is free and spam-free, so Sign Up Today!