Robert Williams is one of the most lauded and controversial American painters of the 20th century. After a childhood steeped in EC comics and stock car culture, Williams braved the mean streets of Albuquerque before moving to L.A. to pursue an education in fine art. Williams went to work in the mid-’60s for the legendary Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, achieving great success in Southern California’s custom car culture, his edgy art adorning hot rods, motorcycles, advertisements and T-shirts.
In the late ’60s, Williams segued into the Underground Comix movement by submitting his work to Robert Crumb and becoming one of the founding ZAP artists. From there, Williams forged a highly unusual career, transcending the constraints of both high and low art by cultivating his mastery of oil paints; he emerged as the preeminent artist among a generation of imagist painters, gathering inspiration from the shadowed corners of contemporary culture.
"There is no way now that I can convey the excitement and the thrill of when those first underground comics came out, when there was nothing but overground comics until us outlaws came into the picture, whippin' out this no stops pornography... Anything we could think of we would do. The energy and power was unbelievable, we thought we were all going to jail, that we were bordering on sedition." – Robert Williams
Text : Fantagraphics book