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Manning Williams: Jack Island Trials
November 4, 2021 - February 6, 2022
In the 1970s and 1980s, the paintings of Manning Williams depicted Charleston city scenes, suburban landscapes, roadways, friends, and family. As David Houston writes in Manning Williams: Reinventing Narrative Painting, that “body of work . . . may be understood as narratives of a larger community in the context of place and time” (page x). Among these paintings is one that is, arguably, Williams’s masterpiece, Jack Island Trials (1983–1985). Houston writes that its sheer size and compositional complexity identify it as “a culmination of his early scene painting. It signals a major shift for him in his quest for creating a narrative painting for his time” (page xi). This extraordinary work, several of the artist’s preliminary studies, and photographs of Williams in his studio by acclaimed photographer Jerry Siegel, make up the current exhibition, which constitutes a kind of visual coda to Reinventing Narrative Painting, the exhibition that was organized by the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston and is on view at the Morris until September 12.