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Williams, William, 1970 November 2

 Item — Multiple Containers

Scope and Contents

Painter and art professor William Williams delivered a lecture on 11/2/1970 (2015-0002/RR299).

Having earned his MFA from Yale University in 1968, Williams saw early success with the purchase of one of his paintings from the Museum of Modern Art in 1969. That same year he began to work at the Studio Museum in Harlem, where he was the artist-in-residence and organizer for the X to the Fourth Power. In 1971, Williams had his first solo exhibition and began teaching at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, where he was on faculty for over forty years. Williams was also a visiting instructor at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture throughout the 1970s.

Williams has been awarded two National Endowment for the Arts awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Studio Museum in Harlem Artist’s Award, and numerous others. His art has been exhibited in the Detroit Studio of Art, Fogg Museum, The Menil Collection, Museum of Modern Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Yale University Art Gallery amongst others.

RR 299 William Williams began his presentation with a slide show followed by a brief statement.


  • 1970 November 2

Conditions Governing Access

Links to digitized content are included in the finding aid.

Biographical / Historical

William T. Williams (born July 17, 1942, in Cross Creek, North Carolina) is an American painter known for his process-based approach to painting that engages motifs drawn from personal memory and cultural narrative to create non-referential, abstract compositions. After the family's move to the North, his art talent was recognized by the head of a local community center, who gave him a room there to use as a studio. He attended the School of Industrial Art in Manhattan (now the High School of Art and Design), which held many of its classes at the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Pratt Institute i(1966) and studied at The Skowhegan School of Art. In 1968 he received a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree from Yale University School of Art and Architecture. Williams quickly gained attention from the mainstream art world. The Museum of Modern Art acquired his composition "Elbert Jackson L.A.M.F., Part II" in 1969, and by 1970 his work was being exhibited at the Fondation Maeght in the south of France.

After his formal education at Pratt Institute and Yale University in the 1960s in the visual arts curriculum, he investigated the physical boundaries one finds uncommon to explorations in the science of color, setting for himself the standard of achieving in his work an inherent completeness out of the reach of other painters. In 1969 he participated in The Black Artist in America: A Symposium, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He also took part in numerous exhibitions including the Studio Museum in Harlem's Inaugural Show, X to the Fourth Power, and New Acquisitions held at the Museum of Modern Art. In 1970 Williams was commissioned by the Jewish Museum (New York), and the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. Williams' first one-man show at New York's Reese Palley Gallery in 1971 resulted in the sale of every painting. The same year, the Whitney Museum of American Art exhibited his work twice. Collectors such as AT&T and General Mills purchased his art and his work was featured in both Life and Time magazines. He was a Professor of Art at Brooklyn College, City University of New York from 1971 to 2008.

In 1977, Williams participated in the second World Festival of Black Arts and African Culture in Lagos, Nigeria (FESTAC). In 1982 Williams was included in Recent Acquisitions of the Schomburg Collection at the Schomburg Center in New York. In 1984 William took part in a show titled Since the Harlem Renaissance, which traveled to the University of Maryland, Bucknell University and the State University of New York at Old Westbury. It also traveled to the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York, and the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia. In 1987 William received the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. He also was a member of a show that took place in Tokyo, Japan entitled The Art of Black America in Japan. William also took part in Contemporary Visual Expressions, a show at the Anacostia Museum/Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C..

William's traveled to Venezuela with painter Jack Whitten and sculptors Mel Edwards and Tyrone Mitchell for the opening of their exhibition Espiritu & Materia at the Museum of Visual Arts, Alejandro Otero. In 2000, Williams took part in an extensive traveling show entitled To Conserve a Legacy: American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The show organized by the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and the Studio Museum in Harlem in New York traveled to eight major museums including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, Fisk University, Duke University and Hampton Universities Art museums. In 2005, Williams was invited to create a print at the Brandywine Workshop in conjunction with receiving the James Van Der Zee Award for Lifetime Achievement. Between July and late August he made five trips to Philadelphia, staying several days at a time. These trips yielded four editions and a number of unique hand-colored prints. The Brandywine Workshop located in Philadelphia was founded in 1972 to promote interest and talent in printmaking while cultivating cultural diversity in the arts. In 2006, Williams was a visiting scholar and artist in residence at Lafayette College's Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI), which included Williams lecture about his work sponsored by the David L. Sr. and Helen J. Temple Visiting Lecture Series Fund. During this year, Williams' work was also shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem in Energy and Experimentation: Black Artists and Abstraction 1964-1980. Williams also received the North Carolina Governors Award for Fine Arts in 2006. Williams is represented in numerous museum and corporate collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza Art Collection,[3] North Carolina Museum of Art, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Menil Collection, Fogg Art Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Library of Congress, Yale University Art Gallery, Chase Manhattan Bank, AT&T, General Mills Corporation, UnitedHealth Group, Southwestern Bell Corporation and Prudential Financial Insurance Company of America. He has exhibited in over 100 museums and art centers in the United States, France, Germany, Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, People's Republic of China and Japan.

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1 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recording) : RR 299 1 reel, 0:11:01; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester.

Language of Materials

From the Series: English

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
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Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US