You must first login or register to follow this artist.

b. 1978, United States

Michael Williams Biography

Michael Williams is an American painter whose humorous tableaus present convoluted visual problems to re-examine the canon of art history and pop culture. Blending inkjet prints, oil paint, and airbrush, he combines digital and analogue processes to create 'puzzles' for the viewer to interpret.

Read More

Early Years

Williams was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania and grew up in Providence, Rhode Island. He began painting when he was nine years old, encouraged by his mother, who painted as a hobby. Williams completed Summer Studies at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1996, before completing his BFA in Sculpture at Washington University, St. Louis in 2000.

Although resolutely believing he would become an artist, at university Williams briefly flirted with the idea of becoming an investigative journalist—an approach that is present in his creative practice as he visually interrogates his subject matter. When returning home to Providence, he was exposed to the art scene at Fort Thunder, a 1990s warehouse space that was both a venue and a living-working studio space for artists.

Williams later worked in the studios of Matthew Barney and Vito Acconci in New York, both of whom he credits for his tireless work ethic. His first solo exhibition was held at Canada Gallery, New York in 2007, where he emerged as the youngest of a core group of painters—including Joe Bradley, Brian Belott, and Katherine Bernhardt—whose works are tied by a playful and subversive humour.

Michael Williams Artworks

Juxtaposing elements of Surrealism and Abstraction with figurative forms, Michael Williams' practice presents an optical conundrum to the viewer by toying with perception. His psychedelically coloured paintings are a result of digital and painterly collage, built upon a combination of exacting processes and off-hand gestural strokes that encode meanings, often to contradict each other.

Early Works

Williams' early work fell into a variety of categories that have since blossomed into further projects and mediums. He initially worked in a Surrealist representational style, predominantly in oil and airbrush on canvas, before beginning to incorporate digital inkjet print in 2011. Describing his own love for 'decoding things' as he paints, Williams' Surf n' Turf (2) (2009) depicts a lobster and a clam at a computer desk, amoeba-like patterns in rainbows of colour exploding out from the monitor. The viewer is forced to decode the visual swirls as the sea creatures presumably code them for us.

Puzzle Drawings

Williams' 'puzzle drawings' begin as doodles and sketches, which he then manipulates in Photoshop to remove a section in the shape of a jigsaw puzzle piece, continuing to draw in the space left behind. His solo exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh in 2017 featured one room of paintings and the other devoted to 40 drawings that were made in preparation to create the final product. Untitled Gourd (2016) displays an amalgamation of a computer keyboard, floor tiles, a galactic sky and his puzzle-piece-painted shapes to create a scene where the eye finds it difficult to land.

Opening

Williams 2020 exhibition Opening at Gladstone Gallery, New York featured works that moved away from his complicated visual style to focus on recognisable, unembellished imagery. The 11 monumentally sized canvases and five smaller collages were entirely produced through digital processes—combining collaged images lifted from commercial advertising and the artist's own virtual strokes—removing any evidence of his complex layering process. Painting (2020) depicts a figure standing in front of one of Williams' own paintings, exemplifying the self-referential and humorous thread that ties his works together.

Awards and Accolades

Williams was awarded an artist residency at The Moore Space, Miami in 2007. He also won a residency from the Danish Arts Council in 2009.

Exhibitions

Michael Williams has been the subject of both solo and group exhibitions.

Solo exhibitions include Michael Williams, David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles (2022); MAKE PLANS GOD APPLAUDS, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland (2021); Opening, Gladstone Gallery, New York (2020); New Paintings, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich (2019); Fructis, David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles (2018).

Group exhibitions include Drawing 2020, Gladstone Gallery, New York (2020); Input / Output: Painting after Technology, Galerie Max Hetzler, London (2019); Fatherhood, Over The Influence, Los Angeles (2019); Samaritans, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, New York (2019); The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2014).

Annie Curtis | Ocula | 2022

Michael Williams
featured artworks

View 30 More
Frogs 3 by Michael Williams contemporary artwork painting
Michael Williams Frogs 3, 2022 Oil on canvas
172.7 x 132.1 cm
Gladstone Gallery Request Price & Availability
Frogs 8 by Michael Williams contemporary artwork painting
Michael Williams Frogs 8, 2022 Oil on canvas
172.5 x 132 cm
Galerie Eva Presenhuber Request Price & Availability
Frogs 2 by Michael Williams contemporary artwork painting
Michael Williams Frogs 2, 2022 Oil on canvas
172.5 x 132 cm
Galerie Eva Presenhuber Request Price & Availability
Frogs 7 by Michael Williams contemporary artwork painting
Michael Williams Frogs 7, 2022 Oil on canvas
172.5 x 132 cm
Galerie Eva Presenhuber Request Price & Availability
Wrecked Tesla by Michael Williams contemporary artwork painting
Michael Williams Wrecked Tesla, 2019 Inkjet on canvas
195.3 x 255.9 x 2.5 cm
David Kordansky Gallery Request Price & Availability
Pig by Michael Williams contemporary artwork print
Michael Williams Pig, 2018 Inkjet on canvas
276.9 x 226.1 x 2.9 cm
David Kordansky Gallery Request Price & Availability
10 HBOS by Michael Williams contemporary artwork painting
Michael Williams 10 HBOS, 2018 Enamel on linen, 10 parts
156.8 x 526.4 x 2.9 cm
David Kordansky Gallery Request Price & Availability
Flies in Computer Lab by Michael Williams contemporary artwork print
Michael Williams Flies in Computer Lab, 2018 Inkjet on canvas
307.3 x 250.2 x 2.9 cm
David Kordansky Gallery Request Price & Availability
View 30 More

Michael Williams
recent exhibitions

View 2 More
View 2 More

Represented by these
Ocula Member Galleries

David Kordansky Gallery contemporary art gallery in Los Angeles, United States
David Kordansky Gallery Los Angeles, New York
Gladstone Gallery contemporary art gallery in 515 West 24th Street, New York, United States
Gladstone Gallery New York, Seoul, Brussels
View 2 More

Michael Williams in
Ocula Magazine

Learn more about the market for works
by Michael Williams.
Enquire for a confidential discussion. Enquire Now
Simon Fisher, Ocula CEO
Ocula Advisor
Simon Fisher
Christoper Taylor, Ocula Advisor
Ocula Advisor
Christopher Taylor
Eva Fuchs, Ocula Advisor
Ocula Advisor
Eva Fuchs
Rory Mitchell, Ocula Advisor
Ocula Advisor
Rory Mitchell
Ocula discover the best in contemporary art icon.
Follow Michael Williams
Stay ahead.
Receive updates on new artworks,
exhibitions and articles.
Your personal data is held in accordance with our privacy policy.
Follow
Do you have an Ocula account?
Ocula discover the best in contemporary art icon.
Get Access
Join Ocula to request price and availability of artworks, exhibition price lists and build a collection of favourite artists, galleries and artworks.
Do you have an Ocula account? Login
What best describes your interest in art?

Subscribe to our newsletter for upcoming exhibitions, available works, events and more.
By clicking Sign Up or Continue with Facebook or Google, you agree to Ocula's Terms & Conditions. Your personal data is held in accordance with our Privacy Policy.
Thank you for joining us. Just one more thing...
Soon you will receive an email asking you to complete registration. If you do not receive it then you can check and edit the email address you entered.
Close
Thank you for joining us.
You can now request price and availability of artworks, exhibition price lists and build a collection of favourite artists, galleries and artworks.
Close
Welcome back to Ocula
Enter your email address and password below to login.
Reset Password
Enter your email address to receive a password reset link.
Reset Link Sent
We have sent you an email containing a link to reset your password. Simply click the link and enter your new password to complete this process.
Login