There are tons of details to examine in the pop surrealist work on display in Robert Williams: Slang Aesthetics. Below, the LSU MOA staff chose a few of their favorites. Stop by before the exhibition closes on June 17 and share your favorite details of Williams' paintings by tagging LSU MOA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
"Robert Williams: Slang Aesthetics was the first show I worked on after moving to Louisiana. Of course, one of the first things I did after moving to the south was try and find the best Louisiana cuisine, especially gumbo which I had never tried before. I was delighted when we unpacked this painting and I saw the detail of the gumbo pot. It’s one of the things in the show that connects it to our area even though Williams is not from Louisiana."
—Elizabeth Caroscio, assistant registrar
"The detail in the Robert Williams show that stood out to me was the furry, colorfully-striped creature that seems to be eating itself in The Fraught Proposal. To me, this creature looks like a stylized cartoon-like take on the ancient symbol of the snake eating itself (Ouroboros). Whereas the Ouroboros snake is shown swallowing its own tail taking the shape of a circle or figure eight(symbolizing eternity or cyclicality), the creature in this painting is chomping down on its own torso- possibly a metaphor for an ominous end."
—Jordan Hess, preparator
"I was drawn to this artwork because of my love for all things mechanical, including when depicted in paintings. In this painting, Robert Williams presents a humanoid machine in the form of a car but that has extremity-like hydraulic-driven appendages for the legs and arms. The upper half of this 'automobile' is occupied by what appears to be a man but who has multiple transformer-like parts to his head. Thus, the idea of a human-like car with mechanical appendages is carried into the male passenger’s head that appears to disassemble into multiple component parts. Car and human passenger are 'one.' This fantasy moving human machine impresses us as being infinitely large, creating simultaneous tracks on the North Pole (top), the moon’s surface (bottom), Las Vegas (left), and a castle (right)."
—Steven Heymsfield, Advisory Board vice chair
"I enjoy Ocularmorphic Eclipse, 2009, oil on jute, because the eyes make me think of Star Wars movies and Sith lords, and watching summer movies in air-conditioned theaters."
—Fran Huber, Assistant Director for Collections Management
"I enjoy seeing how things are made, like the section that takes a glimpse into creating the 'Smilin' Joe' mask with the woman layering the papier-mâché. I’m also interested in how perfectly distributed the paint splats are on her apron and how clean she is, with the exception of the apron and gloves. As someone who can't walk by an ongoing project without getting messy, I could learn a thing or two from her."
—Brandi Simmons, communications coordinator
"I like this self-critical moment in Aesethetics or Lechery because it calls out the artist's own role in perpetuating the male gaze (while problematically still rendering the female form as homogenously 'attractive'—young, naked, with flowing hair—and fleeing) and art history's tradition of 'oggling' female breasts and bottoms."
—Courtney Taylor, curator
"The use of masks as a visual narrative device has always fascinated me. From Mannerist painting to the works of James Ensor, the mask can be used to imply deception, mystery, reserved character, or even a connection to theatrical themes. The mask functions in this piece as an implication of deception, but Williams has taken it a step further to include a man wearing a mask, which is wearing yet another mask. Confronted with this doubling of motif, one is forced to consider, quite literally, multiple layers of meaning within the context of The Fraught Proposal."
—Malarie Zaunbrecher, communications intern
Robert Williams: Slang Aesthetics is presented courtesy of the Artist, Thinkspace Gallery, and curator Josef Zimmerman. This program is made possible in part by the Louisiana Decentralized Arts Funding Grant from the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge in cooperation with the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, and Louisiana State Arts Council. Additional support for this exhibition is provided by Annual Exhibition Fund donors The Imo N. Brown Memorial Fund in memory of Heidel Brown and Mary Ann Brown; Louisiana CAT; Charles Schwing; Alma Lee, H.N. and Cary Saurage Fund; Newton B. Thomas Family/Newtron Group; LSU College of Art + Design; and Susanna Atkins McCarthy.