Monday, March 12
William L. Hawkins: An Imaginative Geography is an exhibition by the Columbus Museum of Art that features the works of the Columbus artist, William Hawkins. On view from February 16 to May 20, 2018, the exhibition features more than 60 art works of one of the finest self-taught artists of the 20th century. The exhibition features the Ohio Stadium painting that was recently acquired by CMA, as well as both well-known and rarely seen works by Hawkins. The show is curated by the former curator of folk art at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Susan M. Crawley.
William Hawkins, born in Kentucky in 1895, began his career in painting in the 1930’s. It is impressive that despite not having received formal education in painting, he was known for his expressionist oeuvre, where he used images both from pop culture media and his own photography. His works show vibrancy in colors and are quite riveting despite the simplicity of the subjects.
A true inspiration, Hawkins worked a wide range of laborious jobs to support himself. Working and at the same time pursuing a career in art is something inspiring. This exhibition is a showcase of the talent of a real genius. Although he has long held a place in the forefront of twentieth-century self-taught artists, this Ohio painter has received less than his fair share of attention.
The exhibit will introduce Hawkins’s exuberant paintings to a wider audience at a time when more and more museums are recognizing the powerful appeal of America’s self-taught artists. While focusing on the artist’s most aesthetically successful, confident, and characteristic works, the exhibition will bring special attention to his use of space, his collage practice, and his work in series, of which his nine Last Suppers is perhaps the most extensive example.
Hawkins explored the world through mass media and then represented it to the public with a unique expressive bravado. He appropriated most of his subjects from photographic reproductions he amassed from newspapers, books, calendars, magazines and other popular print media. Simplifying the forms and heightening the colors, he elaborated certain passages with vigorous, swirling brushwork. He also taught himself sophisticated techniques such as scumbling, which he used to great effect. As he became more successful, Hawkins began to collage mass media images and eventually putting found objects into his paintings. He also developed a technique called “puffing up” a shape: building it up from the support by mixing cornmeal into the enamel paint.
Visit the Columbus Museum of Art where you can appreciate Hawkins’ works with your own eyes. Perhaps this visit will awaken the artist within you; the artist that lay sleeping in the recesses of your mind. Perhaps you will find vibrant colors just as Hawkins did. William L. Hawkins: An Imaginative Geography runs now until May 20, 2018.