In the late 20th and early 21st century, diverse forms of commonplace and popular art appeared to be coalescing into a formidable faction of new painted realism. The new school of imagery was a product of art that didn’t 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.
This alternative art movement found its most apt participant in one of America’s most controversial underground artists, the painter, Robert Williams. It was this artist who brought the term “lowbrow” into the fine arts lexicon, with his groundbreaking 1979 book, The Lowbrow Art of Robt. Williams. Williams pursued a career as a fine arts painter years before joining the art studio of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth in the mid-1960s. From this position he moved into the rebellious, anti-war circles of early underground comix, as one of the celebrated ZAP cartoonists.
Featuring an introductory essay by Coagula Art Journal founder Mat Gleason along with a new art manifesto and foreword by Williams himself, as well as tons of rare photos and ephemera.
Inaddition to being one of the seven, originalnbsp;Zap Comixnbsp;contributors,nbsp;Robert Williams's influence onalternative art is immeasurable. From his endeavors to broaden thepossibilities for young artists to gain exposure sprang the well-known artchronicle,nbsp;Juxtapoznbsp;magazine.He is the subject of a recent documentary, Mr.Bitchin'. He lives in Chatsworth, CA with his wife Suzanne.
"Welcome to Rockwell Land," writes Deborah Solomon in the introduction to this spirited and authoritative biography of the painter who provided twentieth-century America with a defining image of itself. As the star illustrator of The Saturday Evening Post for nearly half a century, Norman Rockwell mingled fact and fiction in paintings that reflected the we-the-people, communitarian ideals of American democracy. Freckled Boy Scouts and their mutts, sprightly grandmothers, a young man standing up to speak at a town hall meeting, a little black girl named Ruby Bridges walking into an all-white school—here was an America whose citizens seemed to believe in equality and gladness for all.
Who was this man who served as our unofficial "artist in chief" and bolstered our country's national identity? Behind the folksy, pipe-smoking façade lay a surprisingly complex figure—a lonely painter who suffered from depression and was consumed by a sense of inadequacy. He wound up in treatment with the celebrated psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. In fact, Rockwell moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts so that he and his wife could be near Austen Riggs, a leading psychiatric hospital. "What's interesting is how Rockwell's personal desire for inclusion and normalcy spoke to the national desire for inclusion and normalcy," writes Solomon. "His work mirrors his own temperament—his sense of humor, his fear of depths—and struck Americans as a truer version of themselves than the sallow, solemn, hard-bitten Puritans they knew from eighteenth-century portraits."
Deborah Solomon, a biographer and art critic, draws on a wealth of unpublished letters and documents to explore the relationship between Rockwell's despairing personality and his genius for reflecting America's brightest hopes. "The thrill of his work," she writes, "is that he was able to use a commercial form [that of magazine illustration] to thrash out his private obsessions." In American Mirror, Solomon trains her perceptive eye not only on Rockwell and his art but on the development of visual journalism as it evolved from illustration in the 1920s to photography in the 1930s to television in the 1950s. She offers vivid cameos of the many famous Americans whom Rockwell counted as friends, including President Dwight Eisenhower, the folk artist Grandma Moses, the rock musician Al Kooper, and the generation of now-forgotten painters who ushered in the Golden Age of illustration, especially J. C. Leyendecker, the reclusive legend who created the Arrow Collar Man.
Although derided by critics in his lifetime as a mere illustrator whose work could not compete with that of the Abstract Expressionists and other modern art movements, Rockwell has since attracted a passionate following in the art world. His faith in the power of storytelling puts his work in sync with the current art scene. American Mirror brilliantly explains why he deserves to be remembered as an American master of the first rank.
In The Philosophy of Andy Warhol—which, with the subtitle "(From A to B and Back Again)," is less a memoir than a collection of riffs and reflections—he talks about love, sex, food, beauty, fame, work, money, and success; about New York, America, and his childhood in McKeesport, Pennsylvania; about his good times and bad in New York, the explosion of his career in the sixties, and his life among celebrities.