TABLE OF CONTENTS

RESERVE BACKLASH: SUE WILLIAMS’ BLACK COMEDY OF MANNERS

FOR A GROWING NUMBER of viewers and artists, Sue Williams is the first painter in recent memory to plunge deep into the taboo-ridden areas of the psyche and come back not merely to tell the tale, but to poke and prod her viewers into cheering her along. The accomplishment of her recent work—a no-holds-barred attack on misogyny and violence toward women, carried out in the surprisingly conventional media of painting and occasionally sculpture—is far more than a mere overhaul of the cartoonishly diaristic style of image-making that brought her to critical attention during the waning of the ’80s. On the contrary, a series of very recent shifts in the art public’s thinking about feminism, activism, figuration, and painting in general has thrust Williams and her work to the center of an ideological tug-of-war that seems to be pulling from every direction at once. Williams’ art is possessed of

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