Born July 27, 1895, in Union City, Kentucky — as told by nearly all of his artworks alongside his signature and trademark vibrant borders — how can you not love this incredible self-taught artist. One does not forget the first time they encounter a piece of art by William Hawkins, in 2018 at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa this artwork left me speechless. The colors, the freedom, the humor and the ability to relate yet still be blown away by his artwork make William Hawkins standalone and keep you coming back and wanting more.
1. Untitled (Monkey on a Limb) (1988)
2. Rattlesnake Yellow and Black (c. 1983)
3. Untitled (Founding Fathers) (1989)
4. Untitled (San Francisco Row Houses) (1987)
5. Untitled (Foo Dog) (1983)
6. Man Wrestling Bear (1985)
7. Untitled (Indigenous Chief with Collage) (1988)
8. Last Supper #4 (1986)
9. “Venetian Courtyard” (1984)
10. Prudential N.Y.C. (1985)
(All artwork courtesy of and big thanks to RICCO/MARESCA Gallery)
Brief bio on William Hawkins:
William Hawkins was a self-taught African-American artist known for his expressive paintings of Ohio, newspaper clippings, and animals. “There’s nothing to do but sit around and get better,” he once said of painting. Born William Lawrence Hawkins on July 27, 1895 in Union City, KY, he grew up on a rural farm, learning to draw by copying illustrations from auction posters and calendars. At the age of 21, Hawkins moved to Columbus, OH, where he worked odd jobs and began producing paintings with house paint on found boards and wood moldings. Despite having made paintings since the early 1930s, the artist’s work wasn’t publicly exhibited until 1982, when his friend Lee Garrett entered one of Hawkins paintings into the Ohio State Fair. Over the next eight years, he has a string of exhibitions and continued to work until his death in Dayton, OH in 1990. Today the artist’s works are held in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., the American Folk Art Museum in New York, and the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio, among others. (via @artnet)
Learn more and see more of William Hawkins’ work here.