5 Most Incredible Artists of the Lowbrow Art Movement

Updated on April 10, 2018
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I have worked as a writer in France for ten years, writing professionally for primarily film publications.

James Jean
James Jean

Lowbrow art - The champions of egalitarian aesthetics

In respect to organizing and categorizing a large group of undefinable popular art, the term “Lowbrow” seems to be the keystone timber in the semantic logjam. Not a very dignified title, but one that keeps recurring, finding its way back to paraphrase a spontaneous art trend that has inspired young people for quite some time.

There seems to be a growing interest in what was once thought of as the disregarded arts—the arts that, until recently, have been considered commercially tainted or non-academic. These endeavors include rock & roll promotional posters, underground comic books, lurid pulp magazine illustrations, hot rod & motorcycle imagery, tattoo art, surfer and skateboard art, carnival graphics (especially related to sideshows), pin up girly artwork, and of course, public and gallery graffiti, plus numerous other forms of idiosyncratic visual stimuli.

Some of these modes of Americana have been inconspicuously influencing young people for decades - and have as legitimate a provenance as modern art classifications we would find in art appreciation textbooks.

Evolving from these illegitimate offsprings of our culture is an underground or outlaw painting school which is more than twenty years old. It emerged from a small psychedelic surrealist group on the West Coast whose ranks swelled during the 1980s by assimilating into punk rock and new wave painting groups. Now defined by such collectives as China Haul in NYC.

By the early 1990s, a sizable number of independent artists across the United States combined into a group that has become hard to ignore. The central premise of their work reflects the use of cartoon imagery, such as KAWS, Supreme, A Bathing Ape, and a representational narrative. Unlike reactionary movements of the past, there doesn’t seem to be any attempt to displace today’s artists or art movements already established in our academic institutions and museums.

If they were by some miracle to usurp the art status quo, these young iconoclasts would chance losing their prized tenure as disenfranchised artists.

Mike Davis

“My work has been described as Modern Surrealism, and my influences range from Dutch and Flemish painters, to Surrealism, to MAD magazine and countless other sources. Most of my skills and artistic abilities are a result of the influence and encouragement of my mom who is quite talented.”

Davis is a painter, tattooer and musician currently living and working in San Francisco, CA. As a completely self taught artist, he divides his time between painting and working as one of the resident tattoo artists at Everlasting Tattoo. He also worked with high profile streetwear brands such as Supreme, Taobao, Off-White and high end, not-so-lowbrow Saint Laurent and Guess.

Casper Kang

’I like looking at art, talking about art, or thinking about art, including my own. However, I do like making art, maybe this is common amongst other artists as well. I’m Canadian by nationality, though by ethnicity, I’m half South-Korean, half North-Korean-I don’t even know if that makes sense.’

Casper Kang was born in 1981 in Toronto, Canada. After completing his B.A.S. (Architecture) at Carleton University, he moved to Seoul, South Korea in 2004. There, he worked for several architectural firms over a period of about 2 years. Feeling disillusioned with society, and due to his lifelong affinity for art, he quit his job to pursue a career as a painter. Inspired by modern social conditions, the visual forms and subject matter of his work draw from such outlets as cultural identity, capitalism, and individualism.

Natalia Fabia

Natalia Fabia’s paintings are the signature of LA’s “new progressive” women of the 21st century. Like the independent working class of women who emerged from the Industrial Revolution or the liberated ‘Flappers’ of the 1920s, Natalia’s women are unabashed, aggressive and confident as she documents their influence on the lifestyle of an enraptured world. Irreverently calling them ‘hookers’, she is fueled and fascinated by their color, their sparkles, their sultriness and their strength.

Natalia Fabia is of Polish descent and was raised in Southern California where she graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. A traditional, classically-trained oil painter, Fabia is inspired by artists Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and John Singer Sargent as well as ornate interiors, wild animals, voyeurism, and punk rock.


Todd Schorr

Todd Schorr was born in 1954 in New York City and grew up in Oakland, New Jersey. 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 techniques of the old masters. In 1972 he entered the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) wanting to be a painter but was advised to pursue illustration.

Schorr started professional illustration work while still in college, and soon after graduating in 1976, he moved to New York City where he produced work for projects including album covers for AC/DC, movie posters for George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, and covers for Time magazine. By 1985 Schorr began making a concentrated effort to break away from illustration and focus on fine art. Schorr and his wife Kathy relocated to Los Angeles in 1998 where they currently live and work with the art and clothing company China Haul.

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Jonathan Saiz

Born in Colorado in 1983, Jonathan Saiz studied painting at Parsons School of Design in Paris and New York and at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Since his studies, Saiz lived briefly in Berlin and spent the last two years living and working in Paris and Greece, returning to the U.S. with gallery representation in London, Mykonos and at Denver's Gildar Gallery.

Over the last ten years, Saiz has developed an approach to oil painting that at once embraces the exacting technique of the romantic medium, while clearly positioning this form within a frenetic contemporary dialogue of contrasts and overlaps. Translucent geometric forms act as unstable containers for an extravagant array of 'curiously shifting histories'. These fragmented visions, drawn from a diverse array of historical and contemporary art, fashion, and digital culture sources appear always on the brink of breaking beyond the bounds of their crystalline chambers, at once becoming attainable and perishable in an instant.

Lowbrow docementary


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    • Jessie L Watson profile image

      Jessie Watson 

      2 years ago from Wenatchee Washington

      Interesting. These works of art seem to inspire and reflect something deep about the artists. Needless to say, I much prefer "lowbrow" over a twisted piece of metal that sells on the market for over a million dollars by virtue of venue or vendor.


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