Kirsten Anderson interview Roq la Rue
gallerist and Pop Surrealism
author (and BB pal) Kirsten Anderson was interviewed by the Seattlest. From the article:
Let's say you're on an airplane, sitting next to someone completely unfamiliar with Pop Surrealism or Lowbrow, but who's curious about what you do. Without using any visual aids, how do you explain the movements to her -- in such a way that the Lowbrow fan sitting across the aisle learns something, too? Link
The Pop Surrealism/Lowbrow movement was spawned in the 60's, with the rise of the underground comix scene as well as the outlaw biker/hotrod scene. Robert Williams was an artist working within both genres as well as doing "fine art" -- paintings that were shown in galleries and being taken seriously as "art". A generation of mainly southern california artists became inspired by him and started painting things that were in their personal experience -- usually relating to subcultural lifestyles such as hot rod, tattoo, tiki,lounge and kitsch nostalgia. A magazine called Juxtapoz (founded by Williams) was started and showcased the work of these artists and the mantle of "Lowbrow" was adopted.
Later, as more and more artists came into the fold and started becoming successful, the term "Lowbrow" became less than desirable. When I decided to do the book Pop Surrealism -- I was going to originally call it Lowbrow, but several key artists in the book didn't want to be in a book called that. So I had to come up with a name and that was the one. It was a term that had been loosely floating around and everyone could get behind it. To me though, Lowbrow is work inspired by people like Williams, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, Coop, and Von Dutch, and is grittier, more dangerous, more offensive and provocative, and less understandable to art academia. Pop Surrealism is what this movement has now become as more artists, many former professional illustrators and animators, have expanded the visual vocabulary. Pop Surrealism is mainly technical craftsmanship combined with an imaginative pop sensibility and usually a dose of wry humor.