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William Hawkins

1895 – 1990

Above: William Hawkins, portrait by Ricco/Maresca Gallery.

William L. Hawkins was born in Kentucky and grew up on his affluent grandparents’ farm, after his mother died when he was two years old. He moved to Columbus, Ohio, when he was 21. Hawkins married and divorced twice and supported his children and grandchildren throughout his life, finding steady employment as a truck driver.

Above: William Hawkins, King Kong, 1985, courtesy of Ricco/Maresca Gallery.

Retiring in the late 1970s, he could finally dedicate more time to his art. His dramatic paintings, inspired by commercially printed images from magazines, newspapers, brochures and posters, are unhampered by detail or perspective. Hawkins often used unconventional recycled materials, painting on plywood, pieces of masonite and other found objects, and adding relief and dimension by attaching materials to raise the surface before painting over them. His themes include architectural views of townscapes, images of wild animals and history paintings, often depicting scenes from the “Wild West”. Using house paint, his palette was bright and spectacular; he would mix vivid yellows, reds and whites to create unusual bold images. A particular feature of his work is his use of a painted frame around the main content of the painting, and the inclusion of his name and date of birth in large strong letters.

Above: William Hawkins, Yoda, 1983, collection of Victor Keen, Bethany Mission Gallery.


This is an extract from our new and improved Outsider Art Sourcebook, featuring 250 artists and environmental builders. Available to purchase here.


Having sold thousands of copies around the world, the Sourcebook has proved itself to be an indispensable guide to the world of Outsider Art, essential for all enthusiasts and collectors of Outsider Art, as well as a fascinating introduction to the different facets of the genre.


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