Take Two

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

How Robert Williams of Juxtapoz went from outlaw artist to mainstream

by Alex Cohen and Jacob Margolis | Take Two

Bryan "Birdman Mier 2015

"Once you take the sophistication out of art you have a much larger and imaginative playing field... A cartoon has a far far larger vocabulary than any other form of art," said Robert Williams, the 72 year old artist and creator of Juxtapoz Magazine, to Take Two's Alex Cohen

The artist, best known for his founding of the lowbrow art movement, is the focus of an exhibit at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery at at Barnsdall Art Park in Los Angeles that honors 20 years of Juxtapoz and new works by Williams.

Robert started what became the Lowbrow art movement in the 1970s. At the time, he said, "I was getting a lot of write ups in tattoo magazines, car magazines, biker magazines and rock and roll magazines... but the art magazines wouldn't touch me."

In 1994 he started Juxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine to showcase his work and the work of his friends because, he said, the traditional art world turned up their noses at his cartoonish paintings.

But 20 years on the underground comic scene has become more mainstream, and Williams says that Juxtapoz has aged the same way. "It got so big that it has to cater to a much larger group of people, so that outlaw world is no longer there." Which is ironic, considering that it was originally built for the outlaw artists like Robert

"...I belong to that outlaw world... so I'm an old man here, see? So, this [exhibit] is in respect to an old man that started it." 

Robert Williams's work will be on display at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Art Park until April 19.

If you want to check out our other interview with Robert where he goes deeper into his history as an artist. Click through here.

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