KALYNN CAMPBELL INTERVIEW (for web magazine 2000)
1) How do you personally feel about Lowbrow art?
I think it's a natural progression .......LOWBROW being the current reflection of today's cultural coarseness - the "base" imagery and "low" social core that we all absorb in our daily experiences, much like POP ART was in its time.
2) How does it differ from the forms of art one is usually accustomed to?
For one, I think the LOWBROW movement is one based heavily in cartoon imagery (with exaggerations within the imagery) ...and it embraces all representations of "taboo/fetish" images which may seem almost "illustrative" and void of academic inclusiveness at first glance. But like movements before it (Pop Art & Surrealism spring to mind), it's depth lies more in its ability to be descriptive of our collective Cultural soul than to just reflect the banal & shallow nature of pure "illustration".
3) What age/type is the typical audience?
At first, the movement seemed to bring a 60's baby boomer generation to the galleries - the reason being the retro imagery rooted in early works, as the art form started as the "KUSTOM KULTURE" group - Robert Williams, Von Dutch, Big Daddy Ed Roth & others, hot rod car/ biker/ monster movie influenced/pinstripe artists and past illustrators: from 70's underground comix to Hot-Rod/Speed Shop 60's t-shirt imagery, the art had a very retro feel. Slowly, over the last decade, younger artists fresh from art school started taking advantage of the cartoonish car/monster barriers that were coming down in the galleries thanks to the Kustom Kulture shows, and began developing a similar feel with current base imagery as the foundation.
Although there have been several museum shows centered around the "KUSTOM KULTURE/LOWBROW" movement, many hard-boiled art critics refuse to either acknowledge or comment on this new art form, dismissing it as either "illustration" or "beneath" the (snobbish) "set standards" of FINE (Highbrow) Art. These critics seem to forget the "OUT-SIDER" aspect of some forms of "Fine Art" like the lowbrow core of FOLK ART. Even the artists themselves, those who use racy "pin-up" images in their paintings have come under attack by feminist groups as being "dangerously misogynist" ( the movement, like most before it, is predominately male, and a "macho" stance is the order of the day). So like DADA once did, it currently enjoys the pangs of upset art critics (although the work IS collected by distinguished collectors, though hidden away in closets far from the scrutiny of the establishment until the worm turns and the work becomes valuable. Why collect work you're ashamed to hang? "Just in case" I was once told by a collector!).....
5) Where did it start/ where will it lead?
Lowbrow art started long before it would take the form of a canvas in a gallery: lowbrow is the soul of anything created from a view of the base or coarse - from Tijuana bibles (x-rated cartoons) to the art on a Hell's Angels motorcycle tank to racy posters for "Grind house" movies.
The art form got its gallery start in the punk rock night clubs of Los Angeles, a marriage of art and underground that seemed destined. The club owners needed art to fill the walls so that after-hour drinking could quickly take the form of an "art opening" -
I think it is starting to be recognized as an important visual representation of the turn of the millennium, a time of "coarseness overload" within culture itself -from cable TV to the internet to all the TABLOID in-between, the Lowbrow movement will stand as a record of today's social entity.
Robert Williams, father of LOWBROW described the art form as being grounded on:
"...base curiosity - the purest form of art is to give way to simple visual interest. Art is not the slave of decoration. Hail the voyeur, the only honest connoisseur!!!"
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