Shout Magazine

Mark Kostabi on Sue Williams

The 1990s will be remembered as the decade in which women artists finally came to dominate the art world. It’s clear that in fine art photography, no male photographer can hold a flashbulb to Nan Goldin, Sally Mann, Jean Kallina, Cindy Sherman, or Tracey Baran. In the realm of avant-garde sculptures and installations, Kiki Smith reigns supreme. When it comes to painting, I can’t think of a male who is even close to being on par with Sue Williams.

Sue Williams is known for having transformed her work from angry, nasty, politically-charged screechings on canvas, to wildly imaginative and colorful compositions that brilliantly merge surrealism with abstract expressionism in an unmistakably contemporary way. Not one to rest on her laurels, she has, once again, reinvented herself with new glorious celebrations of line and color, including a youthful jolt of calligraphic energy to the territory of painting, a technique which was introduced in the 1980s by Willem De Kooning.

Williams other talent lies in her ability to turn over remarkably expressive titles, a feat few contemporary artists achieve. More often than not, these articles cop out, producing endless works called “untitled.” Williams’ playful titles (Shoe Bits at Sunset and Red Gets in With the Shoes and Lingerie) are neither corny nor contrived. The names simply reflect the unbridled freedom and intelligence that characterize all of Williams’ vibrant work.

November 1998