Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What Everyone Should Know About Lowbrow Art

What is Lowbrow Art
According to Wikipedia, {http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lowbrow_(art_movement)}:
"Lowbrow, or lowbrow art [1], describes an underground visual art movement that arose in the Los Angeles, California, area in the late 1970's. Lowbrow is a widespread populist art movement with origins in the underground 'comix' world, punk music, hot-rod street culture, and other subcultures. It is also often known my the name 'pop surrealism.' Lowbrow art often has a sense of humor - sometimes the humor is gleeful, sometimes impish, and sometimes it is a sarcastic comment. [2] Most lowbrow artworks are paintings, but there are also toys, digital art, and sculpture.

In an article in the February 2006 issue of his magazine, Justapoz [5], Robert Williams took credit for originating the term "lowbrow art." Because no authorized art institution would recognize his type of art [6], "lowbrow" was thus used by Williams to categorize his works, in opposition to "highbrow." He said the name then stuck, even thought he now feels it is inappropriate. Williams refers to the movement as "cartoon-tainted abstract surrealism [7]." Lately, Williams has begun referring to his own work as "Conceptual Realism. [8]"

Call it Lowbrow or Pop Surrealism?
Labels for the anti-academic, sub-culture art movement began with the label "lowbrow," but soon evolved into the following, any of which can easily be its own category or subcategory:
  • Pop Surrealism
  • Contemporary Figurative Art
  • Conceptual Realism
  • Neo-Expressionism
  • Neo-Surrealism
  • Abstract Surrealism
  • Alternative Art
  • Underground (Contemporary) Art
  • Fantasy Art
  • New Brow Art
  • Outsider Art
  • Modern Gothic
  • Kulture Art
  • Rat Fink
  • Whimsy Art
  • Urban Art
  • Street Art
  • Art Deco Revival
  • Steampunk
  • Art Deco Revival
  • Neo-Victorian
Just to name a few! Many artists conSider Lowbrow or Pop Surrealism art to be interchangeable faces of the same movement; others consider them as related, but distinct movements. As the momentum of this movement continues to increase, the dividing lines will also continue to evolve.

The best description of this newest creative movement however, is one that flagrantly flies in the face of traditional art. Participating artists purposefully avoid appealing to mainstream academic art critics. Using various media, their provocative works can depict fantastical imagery, both realistic and impressionistic, spanning a gamut of emotions - comical, shocking, disturbing, mystical, curious, ghoulish, absurd, nightmarish, surreal and personal. The common thread in their distinctive styles and diverse subject matter, seem to be "weird." But, as often is the case, weird can be wonderful.

The results of such alternative art can be seen all around us in "story illustration, comic book art, science fiction, science fantasy, movie poster art, picture production, psychedelic and punk rock art, hot rod and biker art, surfer art, beach bum and skateboard graphics, graffiti art, tattoo art, pinup art, pornography and myriad other commonplace egalitarian art forms. All are simply dismissed and treated with condescension by the formal art authorities." [9]

Clash of Two Worlds: Lowbrow Art vs Fine Art
Academic art circles consider lowbrow a "non-legitimate" art movement. Many Lowbrow artists began their careers in non-traditional art fields; many are self-taught. Unfortunately, this serves to separate them from the world of museum curators and art schools, from whom critical acclaim of their works and skills is essential for artistic credibility. A lack of informed and authoritative writing on the subject has concerned museums and mainstream galleries pertaining to the position of lowbrow art in the fine art world. This concern has caused them to exclude lowbrow artwork from displays and showings. However, this exclusion has not discouraged active collectors, and many artists have developed strong and faithful followings. Some well known lowbrow artists include: Mark Ryden, Robert Williams, Joe Coleman, SHAG (Josh Agle), Niagara (artist), Stacy Lande, Todd Schorr, Camille Rose Carcia, Alex Pardee and Elizabeth McGrath. More lowbrow artists can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Lowbrow_pop_surrealism_artists

So why should everyone know about lowbrow art? If you're an artist who is having trouble finding your niche, then the subculture of pop surrealism just might be where you belong. If you're a collector looking for something new, then this art movement just might be the place to discover the next Andy Warhol or Salvador Dali. 

Art surrounds us and viewed through the eyes of these amazing artists, the common has become exceptional!

No comments: