American painter. She studied at the California Institute for Art and Design, Valencia, in 1972 and 1975–6 and at Cooper Union in New York in 1973. She established herself with paintings that combined text (by turns humorous and scathing) with an expressionistic style, as in Money is Congealed Energy (1989; see Artforum, xxviii, Sept 1989, p. 141). Her work expressed the belief that there was a wide spread hatred and violence towards women, operating on all levels of society, all mutely condoned. With works such as A Funny Thing Happened (1992; see Artforum, xxxi, Nov 1992, p. 72) Williams derided acts of violence with an acerbic nihilistic humour using a post-feminist and post-theoretical, rather than a positivist, discourse. Her painterly technique played on a very conscious formal degeneration and crafted hysteria that used incompetence and anger as an artistic strategy; this was in marked contrast to work produced by feminists before her, such as Judy Chicago or Mary Kelly. In the 1990s, Williams turned from a hard-edged literalism to a pornographic lyricism, as in Appendages in Full Bloom (1997; see Parkett, l/li, 1997, p. 183), where she examines the use of the female body as a material that has been stretched and mutilated in art since Cubism onwards, especially in the paintings of Willem de Kooning. Her subsequent work approached abstraction, as in Frolicking Green Shoes (1998; see Flash A., xxxii, 208, Oct 1999, p. 89), one of a group of pictures in which she employed large swathing and spurting gestures that reference and humourously critique the Abstract Expressionist all-over paintings of the 1950s.
From Grove Art Online
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