Robert Williams is Mr Bitchin, pure and simple. He is a primogenitor, a force and source of Pop Surrealism, Low Brow and Kustom Kulture whose generosity to younger artists is matched only by his exacting attention to detail and his deep, abiding fascination with humans and the machines they create (and destroy).
And now, after years of fighting for recognition, outlaw and underground artist Robert Williams is the star of his own documentary, Robert Williams Mr. Bitchin’, which explores how the subcultures of the 20th century inspired many of his greatest works.
This documentary delivers insight into multiple American counter-cultures by following the great American artist and underground legend. From Hot Rods to Punk and Metal, from LSD to the top of the art world, the influential paintings of Robert Williams defied categorization until they became their own art movement.
The film includes archival footage by friend and famed photographer CR Stecyk, plus Suzanne Williams, Don Ed Hardy, Debbie Harry, Anthony Kiedis, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Slash, George DiCaprio, Mat Gleason, Axl Rose, Tony Schafrazi and Artie Shaw. Here’s the short form on Williams’ long and rich career:
A prolific oil painter, whose painstakingly detailed work often featured naked women, death, destruction, booze and clowns, Williams didn’t quite fit the fine art mold. In the early 1960s he was confronted with trendy abstraction and superficial pop art. Schooled in the Hot Rod Culture of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Von Dutch, he emerged as a leader in the Underground Comic revolution along with R. Crumb, contributing regularly to Zap Comix. His antisocial paintings of an alternative reality were marginalized by the art world for decades although he became a hero of sorts for underground artists. His notoriety exploded when his painting Appetite for Destruction was used (and much vilified) as the cover for that 1987 Guns N’ Roses’ album. When he started Juxtapoz Magazine in 1994, his movement found him. Legions of artists looking for a place within the contemporary art world for their cartoonish realism identified with his “LowBrow” aesthetic. At the time, Williams predicted that, “Low brow and alternative art are the crack in the dam and with this leak the art world will never be the same.” By 2010 the art world could ignore him no longer and he was included in the prestigious Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Robert Williams Mr Bitchin’ documents this influential artist as he rises to the top of the art world, always an outsider.
On Monday, July 29, I’ll be interviewing director Mary Reese, producer Nancye Ferguson (and maybe a surprise guest or two) on Firedoglake.com from 5pm-6:30pm. You’re invited to join in and participate in the discussion. Just register on Firedoglake.com (the button is on the upper left hand corner; it’s free!), then log in using the same button at 5pm on Monday. The live, online typed discussion will be on the front page. Just type your questions and comments into the comments box, hit “send comment,” and refresh your browser every couple of minutes to see see new responses and questions.
But wait there’s more!!
SPECIAL OFFER: On Tuesday July 30, Robert Williams Mr Bitchin’ will be screening at The American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles and we’re able to offer CARTWHEELart.com readers a SPECIAL DISCOUNT ON TICKETS!
Film starts at 7:30pm with a Q&A to follow with Robert Williams, Suzanne Williams and filmmakers Nancye Ferguson, Stephen Nemeth, Mary C. Reese, Doug Blake, Michael LaFetra and special guests.
Tickets normally sell for $11.00, but CARTWHEELart.com readers can purchase them at $9.00 each.
Here’s how, TWO OPTIONS:
Option 1: Reserve Tickets In Advance
- Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Put the title of the film – ROBERT WILLIAMS MR. BITCHIN’ – in the subject line!
- In the body of the email include: first and last name, how you found out about the deal (e.g. CARTWHEELart.com), the $9 ticket price and how many tickets you plan to reserve. This will only reserve the tickets.
- All tickets must be picked up and paid for at the ticket office of the Cinematheque.
Option 2: Get Discount at Box Office
You can also show up at the theatre on 7/30 and use our top-secret password: RETINAL DELIGHTS to activate the discount when you purchase your tickets – but don’t wait too long, this is a one-time screening and it will sell out!
>>Discount is NOT available through online ticket purchases via Fandango or tickets purchased at the box office in advance.
Following the screening, the film will be available on DVD and video-on-demand platforms so tell your friends:
We look forward to seeing you online on Firedoglake.com Monday July 29 at 5pm and at the American Cinematheque on Tuesday July 30!