Exhibition of art by Manning Williams at Florence County Museum

March 26, 2019 GMT

FLORENCE, S.C. – Works by South Carolina artist Manning Williams are being exhibited at the Florence County Museum through Sept. 22.

Williams (1939-2012) was a Charleston native who began his career as a realist artist. He attended College of Charleston and undertook graduate studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he became an adjunct professor.

During the late 1960s, Williams’ work was characterized by tightly stylized representation inspired by 20th century painters such as Edward Hopper and Alex Katz. Williams is best known for his mid-career work, which included portraiture, landscape painting and Southern genre and narrative art in multiple media. All were influenced by his interest in American history and his avocation as an outdoorsman.


Late in his career, William’s art took an extraordinary turn, as he began to expand his narrative approach by incorporating comic book imagery into bold and complex abstract compositions. The result is somewhere between pop art and abstract expressionism.

This phase continued for close to 15 years until the artist’s death in 2012. Although sourced from common pop-culture imagery, the results are highly individualized and unique works of art.

Nevertheless, Williams remains relatively unrecognized for his work during this time. The Florence County Museum hopes that the exhibition will increase recognition for Williams’ late career, which remains overshadowed by the relatively strong reputation of his early and middle period paintings.

The exhibit is composed entirely of the artist’s late period abstract works, ranging from 2001-2011. It was developed in collaboration with his widow, Barbara Williams, who has meticulously maintained the contents of her husband’s studio since his death in 2012.

“My work today is about finding a new way to narrate our times,” Williams said in a statement written for Charleston’s Piccolo Spoleto in 2003.

The exhibit can be viewed from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Florence County Museum Special Exhibits Gallery at 111 W. Cheves St.

For more information about Williams as well as other upcoming exhibits and events, contact the Florence County Museum at 843-676-1200 or visit flocomuseum.org.