[Image at top: Sue Williams, The Serpent, 2013, oil and acrylic on canvas, 54 x 64 inches. Courtesy 303 Gallery]
In a way, Williams’s reaction to 9/11 is reminiscent of the Abstract Expressionists’ resort to emotion and the joy (or struggle) of process in the painful aftermath of World War II, as the nuclear age dawned and the Cold War emerged. But there’s more to her work than tribute. The pieces, like many commercial canvases, are explicitly and self-consciously “couch size.” And they are not as resolutely abstract as, say, a Pollack or a Still but rather just “anthropomorphically abstract,” to paraphrase the gallery's press release. The result is not flight from doom but instead a more Warholian message – one that rings true – about the infiltration of horror into even the most ostensibly cheery public imagery.
Sue Williams, Ministry of Hate, 2013, oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 84 inches. Courtesy 303 Gallery.
Sue Williams, Otis, 2013, oil and acrylic on canvas, 50 x 60 inches.
"Sue Williams: WTC, WWIII, Couch Size," 303 Gallery, Chelsea, New York, NY. Through February 22, 2014.
Abstract Expressionist New York: Line and legacy (2010)
Sue Williams's linemaking logic (2008)