the lowbrow art movement.

i postpone death

by livingby suffering, by error,

by risking, by giving,

by losing.


living in los angeles, michael hussar has been creating a type of alluring work, considered apart of the new dark art classification called *lowbrow*. from the beginnings of musicisart, my mind seems to have strongly catered to this interesting genre, focusing on the most weird, mysterious fixations where different imaginary colors, uncomfortable situations and sensual confrontations realistically all come to life.

also known as pop surrealism, the origination of lowbrow started during the early 60s in southern california by cartoonist robert williams and the influential graphic artist gary panter. silently discovered inside underground comics, street graffiti, hand-crafted illustrations, inspiring tattoos and psychedelic poster art, back then the *lowbrow* term seemed appropriate to unknown artists as they felt their personal work would never be considered part of the *highbrow* fine art industry.

robert williams quickly became part of the outsider movement and famously designed the original banned cover of guns & roses “appetite for destruction”, where the visual depiction of rape began a controversy that forced geffen records to change the artwork. robert knew he had to take charge and create some type of forum to portray all the wonderful, undiscovered talent of paintings, sculptures, toys and music out there. in 1994, he began juxtapoz magazine to feature this hidden *lowbrow* revolution. with this published type of presentation, artists like mark ryden, todd schorr, gary baseman and camille rose garcia began the most important steps to their deserving, successful careers.

“there is a very dark and painful side to life, but that is natural. people in our culture think they shouldn’t ever be unhappy. they think being unhappy is unnatural. they try and make it go away. they take pills or they go to therapy to “fix” themselves. they blame themselves or others for their suffering. we need to understand that sadness is as much a part of this life as joy. it would be easy to just get bitter and cold while focusing on the dark side, but there is also an amazing, wonderful side of life. if you look for it, there is true magic all around us. maybe that sounds trite to the hardened self-protective modern ego, but there is magic in this miraculous life. if you open yourself, you do make yourself vulnerable to pain but the deeper pain you experience, the deeper joy you can have.”

mark ryden

“the earth is older than humans and will rebound, but the fate of our species seems to be precarious at best. i try to be positive and use humor in my work, even while knowing this.

camille rose garcia

i wish i had perspective to realize that each job wasn’t life or death. i used to think, ‘if i get a time magazine piece, it’ll make me,’ then it would happen and i’d be like, ‘now i have to get another one to keep up.’ it never ended. i was also never satisfied to do just good work, i wanted to do great work. and i failed a lot.”

gary baseman

“truly engaging art always strikes directly with one’s innate human curiosity. its in our genetic makeup to pick the different, the odd, the unusual. certain symbols are universal, a skull for instance, but mixed with reference points from a person’s own popular culture, especially when its foreign to others, it enhances the mystery surrounding the artwork. when a thing, such as a painting, is imbued with an element of mystery, that becomes much of it’s fascination. as a mystery becomes solved that fascination tends to diminish quickly.”

todd schorr

the documentary *the treasures of long gone john* was made to showcase a fan’s obsession with the above different contributors of the lowbrow art movement joined along with indie musicians such as the white stripes, hole, scarling, holly golightly and the (international) noise conspiracy who began their success as part of the diy label “sympathy for the record industry“. known as an evil lowbrow genius, long gone john is the man behind the entire madness. taking all his hardships and turning them into a true love of art, he single-handedly promoted recordings of over 700 bands without ever signing a contract and shared undiscovered visual artists for different bands’ cover artwork worldwide.

courtney love, the wife of nirvana’s kurt cobain, truly was a loyal celebrity friend of long gone john’s and released hole‘s debut alternative single in the early nineties through sympathy records.

retard girl
[the first session 1990]

jennifer’s body
[live through this 1994]


detroit’s white stripes are sympathy’s most notable artists as the boy/girl duo’s album “white blood cells” was proudly released in 2001.

hardest button to button
black math

[elephant 2003]



after immediately breaking up from sweden’s hardcore band refused, vocalist dennis lyxzen created his own political music project international noise conspiracy and released the amazing, organ driven 2002 ep “up for sale“.

up for sale
bigger cages, longer chains

[a new morning, changing weather 2001]

holly golightly‘s music was refreshingly used in the film “broken flowers” with bill murray. sounding like a reincarnation of the 1960s, holly mixed glimpses of acoustic country, soulful r&b and pure rock n’roll.

tell me now so i know
there is an end

[broken flowers sndtrk 2005]

from los angeles, scarling features the shoegazing vocals of jessicka fodera formerly of jack off jill. in 2003, jessica met long gone john through her artist friend, mark ryden and scarling was immediately connected. they made two albums, featuring cover art especially designed by ryden.

city noise

[so long, scarecrow 2005]

13 Responses

  1. Leroy Jenkins

    Whos the artist that painted the first painting of the pale gal sucking on thorns, is it Michael hussar? If so I didn’t see it on his site. I want to buy a print of it if any are available. Thanks

  2. music is art

    that mark ryden quote really means alot, i think alot of us are afraid of sadness, of maybe others knowing just the feeling…. but i believe its crucial and necessary.

    thanks again for all the nice words, those mean alot to me too

  3. sama

    All the art you post is always perfect! Thanks for informing about the connections to the lowbrow origin, very interesting read!

  4. Anonymous

    i hate it when the levels of appreciation reach such great heights that the expression of said appreciation becomes trite, but here goes anyway: this post is rad!

  5. Anonymous

    you really blow me away… one of the most intelligent and artistic blogs ever!

  6. Anonymous

    I really like this post. I’ve always been a fan of that particular Mark Ryden quote and these tunes are nice and rockin’.

    I was already familiar with most of these acts but “Scarling” is new and I like this a lot. I’m gonna pick up that album tomorrow. Funny since I was just talking about “Jack Off Jill” with a friend of mine.

  7. Anonymous

    The White Stripes also had two excellent albums before White Blood Cells, the self-titled debut “The White Stripes” and then “De Stijl.” Just pointing that out to clarify any confusion.