PRINT November 1993


“Something dead in the street commands more measured units of visual investigation than 100 Mona Lisas!” So says Robert Williams in his “Rubberneck Manifesto” of 1989, and it’s true—no Louvre gridlock matches the rubbernecking delays caused by a good car-wreck. But isn’t this a deadly realization for a painter? Creating a single Mona Lisa would be enough for most artists, but Williams wants to surpass a hundred of them. Can rattling the bars of an old medium like easel painting ever attract as much attention as road kill?

After a youth spent among beatniks and street gangs, in the mid ’60s Williams attended a Los Angeles art school that propounded a rigid Abstract Expressionist pedagogy. In rebellion he turned to the city’s underground culture, designing tattoos and customizing cars for Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. In 1967, Williams joined cartoonists R. Crumb and S. Clay Wilson at the underground

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the November 1993 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.