Deeply political and historical, Christopher Williams's photographs evoke a subtle shift in our perception by questioning the communication mechanisms and aesthetic conventions that influence our understanding of reality. Deploying a style of photography that references multiple sources and precedents, including the carefully composed and well-lit images of the 1920s New Objectivity movement, the photo-conceptualism that he encountered as a student at CalArts in the 1970s, and the advertisement industry, Williams creates layered works that critically, but also playfully, reveal the conditions of the medium in post-industrial society.
Williams was born in Los Angeles in 1956. Since 2000, his work has been represented by David Zwirner. He has had seven solo exhibitions at the gallery, including his first presentation at the London location in 2013. Most recently, in 2017, the gallery in London presented the solo exhibition Open Letter: The Family Drama Refunctioned? (From the Point of View of Production).
Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness marked the artist's first major museum survey, which spanned thirty-five years of work. The exhibition was first on view at The Art Institute of Chicago in 2014, followed by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Whitechapel Gallery, London in 2015. Also in 2014, Williams was the first artist to receive the Photography Catalogue of the Year, presented by the Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards, for the two volumes specially designed and published on the occasion of his touring survey, The Production Line of Happiness (exhibition catalogue) and Printed in Germany (artist book).
Other solo exhibitions include those held at Kestner Gesellschaft, Hanover (2018); La Triennale di Milano; ETH Zurich, Institute gta, Zurich (both 2017); Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany; Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium (both 2011); Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany; Bergen Kunsthall, Norway (both 2010); Kunsthalle Zürich (2007); Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2006); Secession, Vienna; and Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (both 2005).
Museum collections which hold works by the artist include The Art Institute of Chicago; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Ludwig Museum, Cologne; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He lives and works in Cologne and Los Angeles.