New York

Michael Williams


Funny art of the late twentieth century can be split, broadly speaking, into two camps: sarcastic art that tactically reveals the illogicality of passively accepted social mores (Mike Kelley, Lee Lozano, Peter Saul), and art deploying a more subjective humor that draws from personal reference points. Apt examples here would be the self-glorification and self-depreciation (depending on the artist’s mood) of Martin Kippenberger, Maurizio Cattelan, and Urs Fischer. More recently, a number of artists have signaled another type of humor in art. If Kelley, Kippenberger, Lozano, and Saul used humor to debunk what popular culture uncritically considers “normal,” the new kind of humor in the visual arts is more of a slapstick routine—humor for its own sake.

With the paintings shown in his 2007 solo debut, also at Canada, Michael Williams fell cleanly into this last category. Like Mellow Gold–era

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