Wesley Willis Art Examples

July 07, 2012

Dan Ryan Expressway and 51st - June 1996

Wesley Willis Dan Ryan and 51st - 1996


Wesley gave this picture to me after he had come into the bar I worked at and needed orange juice to take his medication.  He didn't have any money and was insistant that I take this piece.  I framed it a few years later and it now creates many conversations in my dining room. 

March 18, 2010

1991 Dan Ryan

This eBay auction has an exquisite item– a 1991 Dan Ryan. No bids yet. (Smite too high at US $5,200.00 minimum)

Screen shot 2010-03-18 at 2.01.26 PM

More images here. Original auctions description here:

Ce dessin de Wesley Willis a été conservé dans une remise depuis sa création , il a été connu du public lors de l'exposition de certaines de ses oeuvres en Europe et en Egypte. Il n' a pas été exposé à la lumière et ses couleurs sont celles de l'époque de sa création. Wesley y a inscrit ses deux sens de la perspective , un style qui lui est unique. Sur la gauche le dessin présente un mouvement qui va vers le lointain tandis qu' à droite le mouvement le rapproche du spectateur. Les trains de Rosk Island, de Chicago , ceux de Northwestern que Wesley a dessinés en défiant l'échelle , traversent Comiskey Park à gauche et les constructions de Robert Taylor à droite. L'horizon à gauche montre le centre ville de Chicago comme Wesley le voyait en 1991 . Cette oeuvre est exceptionnelle , c'est l'oeuvre non seulement d 'un grand artiste de Chicago mais aussi celle d'une des personnalités les plus appréciées de la ville . Wesley disait à propos de cette oeuvre "C'est la face souriante de mon visage" . Si vous regardez l'oeuvre pendant quelques temps vous la verrez. Ma collection dont cette pièce est issue a fait partie de l'exposition itinérante qui a débuté en Suisse en 1997. Elle a accompagné l'exposition en Hollande et a terminé sa tournée au Caire. Bientôt un livre des oeuvres de Wesley sera publié.Je dispose d'une documentation concernant cette exposition itinérante . Cette pièce qui n'est pas encadrée est exactement dans l'état dans lequel je l'ai acquise en 1991. *************************************************************************************************************************************** *************************************************************************************************************************************** *************************************************************************************************************************************************** This drawing by the late Wesley Willis was in storage from the time he drew it until It went on exhibit in Europe and Egypt. It has not been exposed to light and is as vibrant as the day Wesley drew it. Wesley incorporated his two point perspective in this drawing, a style unique to him. On the left the movement is away from us and on the right it comes toward us. The Rock Island and Chicago and Northwestern trains, which Wesley has drawn out of scale, move past Comiskey Park pictured on the left and the Robert Taylor homes on the right. On the left horizon is downtown Chicago as his eye saw it in 1991. This is an exciting piece done by one of America's great artists and one of Chicago's most beloved personalities. Wesley said of this drawing, "That's my smiling face." If you look at for a while you'll see it. My collection of which this piece was a part began a museum tour in Switzerland in 2007. It then continued on to Holland and finished this critically aclaimed tour in Cairo. There will soon be published a much awaited book on Wesley's art. I have documentation for the traveling exhibit. This piece is unframed and is in the exact condition as when I acquired it in 1991. ********************************************************************************************************************************************* http://www.muslimwakeup.com/mainarchive/000196.html Between Laughter and Tears: Remembering Wesley Willis by Michael Muhammad Knight The wind left my sails a week before I was supposed to be in Chicago for the ISNA convention, when I learned that my friend Wesley Willis had passed away following a hard fight with leukemia in a Prospect Heights, Illinois hospice. Wesley was a 6'5", 350-pound Mercy to the Worlds. Though the son of a Muslim, Wesley was Christian. Though not a Christian myself, I saw a lot of Christ-ness in him. Wesley came from the "least" of society: squalid Chicago projects, surrounded by poverty, crime, drugs, abuse and a hellish family life. In 1989, at twenty-six years old, Wesley was diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia. He suffered from audio hallucinations in the form of "demons" who ridiculed him with profanity. Reacting to the voices, Wes would sometimes curse back-unintentionally disturbing or even scaring bystanders. A fellow passenger on the CTA bus, thinking that Wes had sworn at him, slashed his face with a boxcutter. For the rest of his life Wesley wore a long scar across his right cheek. Despite Wesley's pain in both his internal and external worlds, he filled everyone around him with absolute love and joy. Wes made hearts glow. He could say something as simple as "you're a good person" and you wouldn't know what to do with yourself. In addition to the scar on his cheek, Wesley had a permanent bruise on his forehead. This came from a lifetime of "bumping heads." For Wesley the headbutt was a gesture of affection, but sometimes you'd have to ask him to go easy. There are motifs in Islamic literature of Muslims whose foreheads became calloused from repeated performances of sujdah, and traditions claim that on the Day of Judgment a believer's forehead would come up shining. With this in mind I took Wesley's bruise to be the mark of a genuine saint. Wes loved music, and he loved rock n' roll unconditionally. One day while playing Rancid in the car (to hear Wesley's rendition of "Salvation" was priceless) I asked Wes what his favorite band was, and he replied, "Rancid." I asked him again the next day with Nirvana playing, and he replied, "Nirvana." To me it showed how much Wesley got out of every moment. And Wesley would become a rock star himself. Tirelessly prolific, his true discography may never be known. Wesley was said to have recorded in the range of fifty albums and written two thousand songs. He counted among his fans Eddie Vedder and Billy Corgan and once toured across the country opening for Sublime. Wesley's music consisted of him talking and singing to a preprogrammed keyboard beat (usually "Country Rock 8") about friends, bands, bus rides and everyday experiences. He also sang a lot of what he called "bestiality songs" which were directed at his demons. Music was Wesley's therapy. Whether listening on his headphones, performing at a show or basking in love from his fans, the good sounds drowned out bad voices in Wesley's head. For many, however, Wesley's true gift was his drawing. His brilliant cityscapes sold for hundreds of dollars a piece. I own a poster-sized drawing by Wes of the closed psychiatric hospital next to Buffalo State College. When Wes called me in early 2003 to say that he was sick, he spoke of leukemia as he had of his demons. "Leukemia can kiss my ass," he said. "I won't let that leukemia bring me down. That leukemia wants to put me in my grave but I will not let it." He asked me if people died from leukemia. I didn't know what to say. Originally scheduled to hit Chicago for ISNA on Friday, I left early for Wesley's memorial on Wednesday. As I sat at the Buffalo Greyhound station on the evening of August 25, watching a line of buses that could just as well have been lifted from Wesley's drawings, the Earth was closer to Mars than it had been in 59,619 years. I did not know what to do with that other than recognize that it was an odd time. I arrived in Chicago at around noon and then wandered with no idea where to go until finding myself on the UIC campus shuffling along concrete walkways with expressionless students. Eventually I asked for directions and was steered toward the CTA train. I rode the blue line to N. Western Avenue and lugged my big bag to John Rago and Sons Memorial Chapel. Bought a Brisk at the nearby gas station and chilled on the curb. I went to the service at four and was greeted by his former roommate, Carla Winterbottom. I looked straight ahead and there he was: in a sharp suit and tie, hands folded, eyes closed, with the big headphones he carried at all times. I kneeled at the casket. And he was thin. God, he was thin. I met his friends Tammy Smith (whose name I had known for years from Wesley's song about her) and Dennis Cooper, who sported bright pink hair and a black shalwar chemise. Wesley's brother Ricky was there and took an interest in my Wesley Willis hoodie. "Good news is rock n' roll," it said on the back, accompanied by Wesley's face. Photocopied pages of Wesley's lyrics lined every wall. "At least I'm not a violent criminal," read one. More of Wesley's family came in-brothers Jerry and Michael (who looked too much like Wes) and father Walter Willis Shabazz. The room filled with friends, ranging from Jim Simm, the former manager of Genesis Art Store, to Dale Meiners to Jello Biafra. I walked around reading press clippings and studying photo collages-Wesley at the beach, Wesley with a newborn baby, Wesley at various cities, Wesley all dressed up at gallery showings, Wesley with guys like Gavin Rossdale from Bush and one of the Gallagher brothers from Oasis. Several get-well cards were displayed, including one from Hank Williams III asking Wes to realize how appreciated he was. The service celebrated Wesley's boundless humor, joy and pride in himself as an artist. Songs were played, a brief film montage was shown and Jello Biafra led us all in a musical tribute. Most of us alternated evenly between laughter and tears. Posted by editor at September 3, 2003 11:54 AM | TrackBack Comments assalamu alaykum. you say that wesley was born to muslim parents but was a christian. you also said wesley suffered from schizophrenia. under shariah law, wesley is to be regarded as a blameless person from whom God has lifted all responsibility. wesley can call himself muslim or christian or hindu or calathumpian for all i care. wesley is in reality a saint, a friend of God. perhaps it is the innocence and pure goodness of wesley and other mentally ill people which keeps God from destroying the rest of us. i won't bother asking God to show mercy to wesley because wesley is probably already hanging out with some funky hoories. enough! ma salama Posted by: Irf Yukstuff at September 4, 2003 09:04 AM actually it was only his father who was a muslim. but i absolutely agree with you. Posted by: MK at September 4, 2003 12:16 PM

2002 Lakeshore Drawing Goes for $510

Here's the listing on eBay.

And here's an image:

Wesley Willis Ebay Auction march 2010: 2002 Lakeshore Skyline for $510

December 20, 2007

Call for High Resolution Images of Wesley Willis Art

Hello all. I am writing an article about Wesley Willis art for the Mexico-based art magazine, La Tempestad.

What we really need are high-resolution images of Wesley Willis art. Send any pics to me at danielx[at]gmail[dot]com or just upload them to Flickr tagged with wesleywillis and/or added to the  Wesley Willis pool.

These images will reproduced in print, so the better the quality, the better chance it has in appearing in the mag.

Please note the title, year, and owner of the piece. Plus it's always nice to hear about the background on a piece-- how it came into your life.


September 12, 2007

Dan Ryan / State Police from the 90s

Recent Ebay sale of Dan Ryan / State Police from the 90s, impressive at 29 bids with a final price of $910. September 12, 2007


..WESLEY WILLIS SIGNED 'DRAWN BY WESLEY WILLIS PAST 52ND ST. NEAR 51ST.. ORIGINAL dan ryan . 28X41. ON ARTIST'S BOARD..no date but was bought with two others 84 and 85...the style of the State Police cars suggest it is early.the two buses have wonderful ads...many people say ones with the police cars are highly sought after..in the distance are the Sears Tower and Mc Donalds.and the projects where he grew up...I HAVE BEEN TOLD BY SEVERAL PEOPLE THAT WESLEY WOULD SIT AT MICHIGAN AVENUE AND COULD DRAW 35TH AND THE DAN RYAN from memory ...DETAILS AND ALL..THE COLORS ARE VERY GOOD...THESE ARE GETTING VERY VERY HARD TO FIND AND VERY EXPENSIVE..CRIMPED CORNERS...AS USUAL....

September 11, 2007

Sears Tower 1985

Unique Sears Tower from 1985 goes for $405. September 11, 2007.



July 20, 2007

Lakefront, 1996

I was surprised to see that this "The Lakefront" went for $910-- didn't see it as being a super-fantastic example. Seems prices are rising after being stable for a couple years. July 20, 2007





Wesley Willis Drawing "The Lakefront" 1996
Measures 28" x 40"
Some edge wear, I tried to show in pictures, I think a nice frame would cover any of the small imperfections.
These are getting harder and harder to find, especially earlier pieces like this.
The color is still very vivid, this will look great on any wall.

I purchased this from the man himself at a show in Dayton, Ohio at the Subgalley, in 96.
He performed a solo set, and then performed with the Fiasco. I have held onto it for many years, but a recent move and lack of employment have forced me to part with it. This is a rare opportunity to own an original piece of art, that is only getting harder to find.

July 14, 2007

Shoreline, 1996

Wesley Willis "the shoreline 1996" marker drawing on board, 41x28 inches, went for $610. Very good piece. Interesting bubble type on the signature-- rare. July 14, 2007.




Rare early landscape drawing by the one and only Wesley Willis. As with most Wesley drawing this was made on location and shows some of bumps and condition marks from him walking around the city with it in a bag with his folding chair and box of markers. The corners are dented but the piece still looks amazing under glass in a nice frame. The price of wesleys drawings have been going up every year and this early piece would make a great investment.

July 05, 2007

"It's the Shoreline, 2002"

Wesley Willis Original Drawing. "It's drawn by wesley willis. It's the shoreline, 2002". View of Chicago shoreline. Went for $680-- another sign of a healthy market for Wesley Willis Art. July 5, 2007.





Original, absolutely authentic work by Wesley Willis. in great condition with no stains and virtually no scrapes, bumps etc. Color is vivid and unfaded (I have stored the work wrapped since its purchase.)

The work measures 42 x 28 inches an is on artist's board.

I honestly hate having to sell this work - but I'm planning a trip to Italy with my girlfriend and can use all the extra dough I can get!

June 22, 2007

Wesley Willis Drawing Chicago From Memory

Here's a comment below from a proud Wesley Willis art owner. It's always great to hear from people who have Wesley Willis art to get stories of how they came into contact with their pieces. I think this comment is also interesting because it's one example of what's obvious by looking at Wes' later work-- that he drew his standard lakefront scene, with its jumble of buildings and bushes, again and again from memory. Interesting stuff, but a far cry from his intensely detailed 80s and early 90s stuff.

I worked at a cafe/venue called bon appetit in mpls, Minnesota Wesely played a two nighter there on new years eve of 02 Or 03 I work the deli counter that night and ended up buying one of his drawings. I knew him through his music but did not know at the time he was a visual artist. I watched him draw it with a mix of blue pen and neon crayola markers. he drew the whole thing in about a half hour from memory. Its a lake scene from somewhere in Chicago. I love it.



Sears Tower 1985


Lakefront, 1996


Shoreline, 1996

07/ 5/07

"It's the Shoreline, 2002"


Wesley Willis Drawing Chicago From Memory

06/ 3/07

Wesley Willis Art Market


Update: "White House on the North Side" Sold


Exhibition WW vs. GRRRR at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, 28th April – 24th June 2007


Double Wesley Willis at David Leonardis Gallery

05/ 5/07

Dan Ryan from Slotkin Art


View entire Wesley Willis Art Archive by Category and Month


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