Todd Schorr (born January 9, 1954) is an American artist and member of the "Lowbrow" art movement or pop surrealism. Combining a cartoon influenced visual vocabulary with a highly polished technical ability, based on the exacting painting methods of the Old Masters, Schorr weaves intricate narratives that are often biting yet humorous in their commentary on the human condition.
While growing up as a child in New Jersey, Schorr showed a compulsion for drawing at an early age and was enrolled in Saturday morning art classes by the age of five. Deeply affected by fantasy movies such as the 1933 classic King Kong and the early animated cartoons of Walt Disney and Max Fleischer, their influence along with comic books such as Mad would have a lasting effect on Schorr's developing visual vocabulary.
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 that now reside in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
By 1985 Schorr began making a concentrated effort to break away from illustration and focus on fine art painting. He was invited to show work in the 1986 landmark exhibition American Pop Culture Images Today at the Laforet Museum in Tokyo, Japan, along with notable artists Robert Williams, Suzanne Williams, Neon Park, Bob Zoell, Georganne Deen, Mark Mothersbaugh, Gary Panter, and his wife Kathy Staico Schorr, which in large part galvanized the “Lowbrow” and Pop Surrealism movements. Schorr continued to exhibit in group shows but by the time of his wildly successful first solo show in 1992 at the Tamara Bane Gallery in Los Angeles he had severed all ties to illustration. Schorr and his wife relocated to Los Angeles in 1999. The so-called “Lowbrow” art movement that he and his contemporaries helped form almost 25 years ago is now a global phenomenon.
In 2008 Schorr's work was shown at the Laguna Art Museum as part of In the Land of Retinal Delights: The Juxtapoz Factor. His work has also been exhibited in three career retrospectives to date: Secret Mystic Rites 2001, Art and Culture Center, Hollywood, Florida, American Surreal, 2009, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA and Designed for Extinction, 2010, Otis Ben Maltz Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.
Schorr's work has been featured in many books and periodicals on the arts including Juxtapoz as well as the documentary film The Treasures of Long Gone John . Three monographs on his work, Secret Mystic Rites (1998), Dreamland (2004), and American Surreal have been published by Last Gasp.
Clash of Holidays caused a scandal when it was exhibited in 2002, when South Florida civil leaders accused Schorr of blasphemy and others raising this as an issue over artistic freedom.
A retrospective for Schorr entitled, Secret Mystic Rites: Todd Schorr Retrospective, was organized by the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Florida, on December 14, 2001 - February 17, 2002.A huge controversy immediately ensued due to the museum's invitation for the exhibition which depicted Shorr's Clash of Holidays painting. The "museum managers mailed out about 4000 post cards showing Clash of the Holidays. The outrage started there. Clash of the Holidays depicts...Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny locked in mortal combat. Santa's wielding an ax. The rabbit has a knife. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Baby Jesus, who's munching on an ear from a chocolate rabbit, stand by."
"It was just a joke, really, like lot of my paintings that poke fun at things, comments Schorr, who completed the piece in 2000, then sold it to Courteney Cox of Friends television show fame."Initially, "leaders of Art and Culture Center of Hollywood...had decided to take down the painting that had drawn nasty phone calls, e-mails, and criticism from the City Commission." The controversy died down after meetings between local, state, and museum officials concerning artist's rights, free speech and censorship.
In 2006, a feature-length documentary titled The Treasures of Long Gone John, was released.The film is described as "A chronicle of the eccentric art and musical obsessions of indie record producer and self-described 'anti-mogul,' Long Gone John". The film features Schorr, Long Gone John and other Lowbrow artists as it chronicles the progress of the commissioned painting A Pirate's Treasure Dream using time-lapse photography.
Schorr was given a career retrospective entitled American Surreal at the San Jose Museum of Art in San Jose, CA, from June 20-September 16, 2009. The exhibit covered the entirety of the museum's first-floor exhibit space and showcased Todd's work from the mid-1980s through to his two most recent paintings, The World We Live In and When Fairy Tales Collide, which were finished in early 2009. The retrospective was accompanied by a third book of Schorr's work, also entitled American Surreal, published by Last Gasp.
Mark Ryden is an American painter who is considered to be part of the Lowbrow art movement. He was dubbed "the god-father of pop surrealism" by Interview magazine. Artnet named Ryden and his wife, the painter Marion Peck, the King and Queen of Pop Surrealism and one of the ten most important art couples in Los Angeles.
Juxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine is a magazine created in 1994 by a group of artists and art collectors including Robert Williams, Fausto Vitello, C.R. Stecyk III, Greg Escalante, and Eric Swenson to both help define and celebrate urban alternative and underground contemporary art. Juxtapoz is published by High Speed Productions, the same company that publishes Thrasher skateboard magazine in San Francisco, California.
Robert L. Williams, often styled Robt. Williams, is an American painter, cartoonist, and founder of Juxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine. Williams was one of the group of artists who produced Zap Comix, along with other underground cartoonists, such as Robert Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, and Gilbert Shelton. His mix of California car culture, cinematic apocalypticism, and film noir helped to create a new genre of psychedelic imagery.
Lowbrow, or lowbrow art, is an underground visual art movement that arose in the Los Angeles, California area in the late 1960s. It is a populist art movement with its cultural roots in underground comix, punk music, tiki culture, graffiti, and hot-rod cultures of the street. It is also often known by the name pop surrealism. Lowbrow art often has a sense of humor – sometimes the humor is gleeful, impish, or a sarcastic comment.
Niagara, born in Detroit, Michigan, 1955, is a painter and musician. She was the lead vocalist of the proto-punk rock bands Destroy All Monsters (DAM) and Dark Carnival. Her painting derives principally from the Lowbrow art movement.
Camille Rose Garcia is a California-based lowbrow/pop surrealism artist. She produces paintings in a gothic, "creepy" cartoon style. She cites as influences Walt Disney and Philip K. Dick.
Elizabeth McGrath is an American artist and singer. She is based in California who works primarily in the fields of sculpture and animation. Her work is often evocative of the darker side of life, and she has been nicknamed Bloodbath McGrath after the subject matter of her works. Along with her career in art, from 1989 to 1999 she was the lead singer for the hardcore band Tongue, and co-founded the fanzine Censor this. From 2000–2011 she was the lead singer of the Los Angeles-born band Miss Derringer along with her husband/songwriter Morgan Slade.
Merry Akane Karnowsky is a Los Angeles art dealer and gallerist of Japanese and Polish-German ancestry.
Stacy Lande is a contemporary lowbrow painter.
Edward Walton Wilcox is an American painter and sculptor. Originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, Wilcox earned a BFA in Painting with high honors from the University of Florida, where he also received the Presidential Award for Excellence in the Arts.
The Merry Karnowsky Gallery was founded in Los Angeles in 1997 by Merry Karnowsky. It is located on South La Brea Avenue in the Mid-City West district of Central Los Angeles.
Alex Gross is a visual artist currently working in Los Angeles, California. He specializes in oil paintings on canvas whose themes include globalization, commerce, beauty, dark mayhem, and the passage of time.
Heiko Müller is a German painter.
Joe Ledbetter is an American artist and art toy designer from Los Angeles. He is considered part of the Pop Surrealism, Lowbrow Art Movement and Art and Designer Toys movement.
Greg "Craola" Simkins is an American artist.
Mark Bryan is an American painter. Bryan's work travels in two distinct directions. Satirical works of social, political and religious comment and works which take an inward track to the imagination and subconscious. Humor and parody play a large role in many of his paintings. Style elements and influences in his work include classical painting, illustration, Romanticism, Surrealism and Pop Surrealism.
Anthony Ausgang is an artist and writer born in Pointe-à-Pierre, Trinidad and Tobago in 1959 who lives and works in Los Angeles. Ausgang is a principal painter associated with the Lowbrow art movement, one of "the first major wave of lowbrow artists" to show in Los Angeles in the early 1980s. The protagonists of his paintings are cats -- "psychedelic, wide eyed, with a kind of evil look in their eyes".
Nathan Spoor is an American artist, writer, and art curator. He is known for his acrylic paintings and the popularization of the Suggestivism art movement.
is an African American artist whose artwork is responsive to race, gender, female identity, and her ancestral history. Her works are primarily mixed media, 3-dimensional, and oil & acrylic on paper and canvas. Through her artistic practice Lezley explores western and non-western concepts of beauty, femininist psychology and spirituality. Many works conjure elements of magical realism. She has exhibited widely in the U.S. and internationally. Her work is included in museum collections such as The Kemper Museum, CAAM, The Ackland Art Museum, the Smith College Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem and MOCA. She is currently represented by Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles and Various Small Fires in Asia.
Susan Landauer (1958–2020) was an American art historian, author, and curator of modern and contemporary art based in California. She worked for three decades, both independently and as chief curator of the San Jose Museum of Art (SJMA) and co-founder of the San Francisco Center for the Book. Landauer was known for championing movements and idioms of California art, overlooked artists of the past, women artists, and artists of color. She organized exhibitions that gained national attention; among the best known are: "The San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism", "Visual Politics: The Art of Engagement", and retrospectives of Elmer Bischoff, Roy De Forest, and Franklin Williams. Her work was recognized with awards and grants from the International Association of Art Critics, National Endowment for the Arts and Henry Luce Foundation, among others. Critics, including Roberta Smith and Christopher Knight, praised her scholarship on San Francisco Abstract Expressionism, De Forest, Richard Diebenkorn, and Bernice Bing, among others, as pioneering. In 2021, Art in America editor and curator Michael Duncan said that "no other scholar has contributed as much to the study of California art." Landauer died of lung cancer at age 62 in Oakland on December 19, 2020.
When Santa and the Easter Bunny brawl, everybody loses