Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Rising Movement of Pop Surrealism

Anatomy of a Somnambulist, by Mia Araujo
Artistic movements are a constant and organic system in the art world. Some arise in response to other movements, and others are created by the innovation of a single artist’s imagination. The artistic movement known as “Lowbrow art” or “Pop Surrealism” was born in the Los Angeles area in the 1970s. It began as an underground style with heavy influences from pop culture, comics, and other subcultures.

Pop Surrealism has been on the periphery of the art world for years, occasionally cropping up in mainstream galleries across the country. It has been chronically excluded from the “fine arts” sphere due to its unconventional origins. Each of these artists has enormous talent but reside on the outskirts of the traditional bubble. Many of the artists in the Pop Surrealist genre are self-taught and lack a traditional arts foundation, alienating them from the “legitimate” art world. Many of the artists come from backgrounds in illustration, tattooing, and comic books.

The term “lowbrow art” was coined by artist Robert Williams for the title of his book: The Lowbrow Art of Robt. Williams. He wanted a term for his type of art since authorized art institutions refused to recognize his style. Williams has since admitted that the term “lowbrow art” is ill fitting for the genre. Instead, Robert Williams prefers to describe his work, and the genre that sprung from the title of his book, “cartoon-tainted abstract surrealism.”

This estrangement from the fine arts world has not stopped people from collecting Pop Surrealism, however. Collectors are drawn to the figurative and narrative focus of Pop Surrealism. The genre highlights humor and detail fused with pop culture references, some rather old-fashioned. Regional styles have developed across the United States as well. The “west coast” style is more heavily influenced by comix and hot-rod car culture than other parts of the nation. The worldwide spread of Pop Surrealism has caused some very interesting cross-culture effects. As the style develops, there may be more branching, leading to the creation of new artistic movements.

In 1994, Robert Williams founded the magazine Juxtapoz, which continues to be the frontline of writing, media exposure, and Pop Surrealist art community news. The magazine advertises events, galleries, and shows. The magazine is a microcosm of the entire movement and subculture. Each sub-group of the art movement is represented including illustration, graffiti, tattoo, erotica, street art, and music and film.

Some galleries tailor specifically to Pop Surrealism, expanding the credibility of the style. As the community of artists grew, so did the number of galleries showing lowbrow art. One of the galleries that exhibits this type of art, particularly by local artists, is Thumbprint Gallery in La Jolla. The gallery is located at 920 Kline Street and is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12pm to 4pm.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Elton John's Car Collection- Urban Art: Christie's Auction House Sells It All

Christie's Auction House
Written by Samantha Tutone

The sale and trade of art and valuable objects is as old as commerce itself. The formulation of auction houses began mostly after the French Revolution, as London became the major center for international trade. From the world record-breaking sale of a Bugatti Royale automobile in 1987 to Impressionist paintings by Monet, Christie’s Auction House has made some amazing sales since it opened its doors.

Christie’s Auction house was first established in 1766 in London, England. Founder James Christie made the first sale on December 5, 1766. Today, Christie’s has 53 offices in over 32 countries. An amazing assortment of art and memorabilia is sold in the 450 annual auctions. Christie’s Auction house is one of the largest in the world with annual profits of over $3.5 billion. Private and public sales are all part of the extensive services Christie’s offers. The auction house prides itself on having impeccable quality and impeachable provenance for all of the items it sells, including the antiquities. Christie’s has a longstanding rivalry with the other global art auction house: Sotheby’s.

The list of objects Christie’s Auction sells is enormous. There are over 80 categories and departments. Urban art, interior furniture, African art, musical instruments, and fossils are just a few of the types of objects they sell. Some of the most unusual things have come up for auction and sold for a small (or large depending on how you look at it) fortune. Elton John sold twenty of his own cars £2 million. In 2006 a model of the Star Trek Starship Enterprise Class D sold for a half-million dollars. Not two years later an ink and wash drawing of a Gundam by artist Hisashi was auctioned as well. Traditional art objects like photographs, Old Master paintings, and sculpture are also for sale.

Rare and expensive wines have their own market at Christie’s Auction. The house even has art storage facilities for rent or purchase, for proper atmospheric and environmental housing of delicate collections. Christie’s also has an international realty department, selling and renting exclusive properties around the world at the most spectacular locations. The auction house also offers appraisals for all manner of arts.

Even with the recent downturn of the world economy, Christie’s Auction still manages to make a serious profit off the art that it sells. Some aspects of the market took a serious drop, however. Urban art, especially works by the urban art movements’ most famous member Banksy, struggled to sell through 2009 and 2010. On average, the price and demand for Banksy art dropped 30 percent. Nevertheless, change is in the wind. Contemporary art specialist, Ben Hanly said, “Banksy will come back. He’s the one member of the urban art movement who will last” (Reyburn, Bloomberg). Sales of urban art and contemporary art at Christie’s Auction will continue to rise as the world economy begins to recover.

To learn more about contemporary and cutting edge art visit Thumbprint Gallery. It is located at 920 Kline St. #104 in La Jolla, San Diego. The gallery exhibits contemporary, urban, lowbrow, and graffiti art from local artists. It is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12pm to 4pm.