Portrait painting of a woman
“Woman with Cinderblocks,” 1964-69, by Manning Williams (American, 1939–2012). Oil on canvas, 11 ½ x 7 ½ inches. © Image Courtesy of the Williams Living Trust

“Reinventing Narrative Painting” is the first major retrospective of Manning Williams’s work since his death in 2012. View it at the Gibbes Museum of Art (Charleston, South Carolina) through April 18, 2021.

Manning Williams in art studio
Manning Williams, image Courtesy of Gibbes Museum of Art

Williams’s paintings are rooted in the history, traditions, and terrain of the South Carolina Lowcountry. A Charleston native and lifelong resident, Williams earned degrees from the College of Charleston and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

His highly personal approach to realist painting emphasized storytelling and was fueled by an interest in portraying subjects that he found on the periphery of the city and along the barrier islands.

Painting of a woman walking
“Woman Walking,” 1966, by Manning Williams (American, 1939–2012). Egg tempera on board; 15 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches. © Image Courtesy of the Williams Living Trust

Western subjects also commanded Williams’s attention, and during the later years of his career, his concern with narrative was expressed in a more abstract style.

Acrylic and charcoal painting of men hunting
“Sunday in the Marsh,” 1987, By Manning Williams (American, 1939–2012); Acrylic and charcoal on paper; 51 x 75 inches. Image Courtesy of Gibbes Museum of Art
“Rice Fields, 1985-86,” by Manning Williams
“Rice Fields, 1985-86,” by Manning Williams (American, 1939–2012). Oil on canvas, 71 ¼ x 142 ½ inches. Collection of the Charleston County Aviation Authority. ©Image Courtesy of the Williams Living Trust.

“Reinventing Narrative Painting” features 30 paintings from Williams’s prolific career that spanned more than 40 years.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a book published by Evening Post Publishing and will travel to the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, GA.

“Oyster Roast,” 1985-86, by Manning Williams
“Oyster Roast,” 1985-86, by Manning Williams (American, 1939–2012). Oil on canvas, 71 ¼ x 142 ½. Collection of the Charleston County Aviation Authority. © Image Courtesy of the Williams Living Trust.

For more information, visit www.gibbesmuseum.org.


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