chicago

William Hawkins

Carl Hammer Gallery

In the midst of a seminal essay entitled “Perception and Mind,” Henri Bergson suddenly stopped to point out that nobody could get through day-to-day life by looking at the world as metaphysicians do, because if you did, you would be unable to cross the street without being run over. I’ve always thought that this remark might also apply to primitive painters. It seems tome a mistake to regard the imagination of an artist like William Hawkins as being somehow childlike, for his vision strikes me as speculative, rather than merely intuitive; it is meditation carried to the point of impracticality. Hawkins, who worked as a trucker serving the building trades in Columbus, Ohio, for fifty years, is obviously able to see the world in some sort of normative way. Yet I can’t help wondering how he ever could have done anything as commonsensible as drive a truck if he always saw reality in the

Sign-in to keep reading

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

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

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

Order the PRINT EDITION of the March 1987 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

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