Known by many different names including street art, graffiti art, urban art, and pop- surrealism, Lowbrow really came into it’s own with the founding of Juxtapoz Magazine, in 1994, by Robert Williams who coined the phrase “lowbrow art.”
Until recently, the mainstream art world has frowned down on lowbrow art because of it’s sometimes shocking nature and its comic type illustration. Also, the fact that there are no scholarly articles or discussions on lowbrow as an art form, those in mainsteam art circles discount lowbrow as a distinct art form.
A great example of a lowbrow artist can be found with Todd Schorr. According to his bio:
Todd Schorr was born on January 9, 1954 in New York City and grew up as a child in Oakland, New Jersey. Showing a compulsion for drawing at an early age, his parents enrolled him in Saturday morning art classes when he was five years old. Deeply affected by fantasy movies such as the 1933 film classic “King Kong” and the early animated cartoons of Walt Disney and Max Fleischer, their influence along with comic books such as “Mad” would have a lasting effect on Schorr’s developing visual vocabulary.
Playing in bands as a drummer in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Todd fell under the spell of the psychedelic dance posters coming out of San Francisco and underground comics best exemplified by “Zap”. While visiting the Uffizi gallery in Italy on a trip to Europe in the summer of 1970, Schorr began to formulate his idea of combining his love of cartoons with the painting techniques of the Old Masters.
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Lowbrow art is not about shocking people, it’s about being a smart ass. Remember Mad Magazine? Lowbrow artists are not concerned with art theory they’re concerned with technique. If you're at all familiar with psychedelia, punk, hot rods, comic books (and underground "comix"), "classic" TV, tiki culture, advertising art & design, fast food, celebrity magazines, steers, beers, queers, freaks, geeks and of course serial killers, then lowbrow art should appeal to you.
Lowbrow art tells little stories. It’s narrative driven and steeped in pop culture imagery. With the pop culture references, you may get the joke or you may not, but in most cases it will make you think. The style encompasses underground comics, graffiti, tattoo art, rock posters, album covers, and art springing from the cultures of skateboarding and surfing.
Whether it’s a painting, a sculpture, a pulp novel or a movie, there is one thing that sets lowbrow apart from main stream art, it’s price. Lowbrow artists want their work to be affordable. A lot of the art world is out of reach for the average person. People who are part of this movement don’t want to become elitist.
This by no means discounts the value of lowbrow art. We are sitting at the relative infancy of this art movement. Prices are low. The art is visually appealing. Can you imagine where it’s going to be 10 or 20 years? Are you going to say then, I should have started collecting when the costs were affordable. I’m sure that is exactly what some people said years after each preceding art movement
Buy these to get more aquainted with Lowbrow art
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What do you think about lowbrow art?
Claudia Tello from Mexico on December 17, 2011:
I was looking for a backlink to one of my hubs (Street Art: Mexico City' Urban Furniture) and stumbled across this hub. I have never heard of lowbrow art, so I thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn something new. I like that it tells a story and it has a narrative at its core but I don't particularly like the style. I am not much into pop art and I find it a little gross, although it is hard to generalize and I might come across a masterpiece I identify with in the future; if so, I will follow your advice and invest on it while it is still affordable.
Richard Bivins (author) from Charleston, SC on July 01, 2009:
Thanks for visiting James. I agree, some of this stuff is very interesting. Same here, I grew up with MAD and love it's raw humor.
James A Watkins from Chicago on July 01, 2009:
This is a great little Hub, man. I love art of all brows. That art by Todd Schorr is great. And I have a soft spot for MAD magazine, too. Thanks for the interesting view.