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Art Week

Robin Williams’ All-Female ’70s-Inspired Artwork

The contemporary artist expertly mixes creepiness, sexuality, and comedy in the best way possible.

By: Alicia Cesaro
Photography: Alec Kugler

Walking into Robin Williams’ (no, not that Robin Williams) Greenpoint studio and being confronted head-on with her larger-than-life artwork, which feels a little...cult-y, a little ’70s, a little California, and just a little bit out of Emma Cline’s The Girls, evokes kind of a familar sensation. Maybe it’s the aforementioned themes, or the feeling of familiarity towards the women portrayed in her pieces. As Williams describes it, “these women are presenting themselves not simply as sexy, but as sexual. It’s usually backwards—people are expected to be sexy but not sexual. Some of these women are creepy, intimidating, or strange in some way.” Case in point? The super tall alien-like girl running away from what seems to be a beach at sunrise, tan lines giving off a feeling of having fallen asleep, carrying what could be a surfboard, or a mirror. Or the blonde Stepford-esque wife straight from a ’70s shampoo advertisement, who seems to be trapped by her super glossy hair, awaiting something.

But of course, with art, everything’s up for interpretation. So one evening we caught up with Williams—who got an early start in the art world at a Brooklyn-based gallery, following four years at the Rhode Island School of Design, before signing with her current gallery, P.P.O.W.—in her paint-splashed work space (with camo Crocs and all) to chat with her about her upcoming all-female body of work, the constraints society puts on women to be sexy, but not sexual, and what’s inspired this whole collection.

Click through the gallery to read more about Williams' affinity for a '70s California aesthetic and being a "creepy woman".

 

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