There was a genre of art that developed in Los Angeles in the 1970s called “Lowbrow,” and a parallel art form called Pop Surrealism. Both borrow heavily from popular culture, both draw their artistic influences from underground comix, tattoo artists, and the punk scene, among other vaguely disreputable influences. It’s the first art I started collecting, thanks to quite a few years spent in LA in my early 20s, as well as a lifetime love for popular culture. And lowbrow artists touch on Irish themes with surprising frequency, so I thought I would offer a few samples of Irish-American lowbrow:
There’s just about everything you could want in this image: A Poitín still, a crock of gold, and leprechaun exhaling smoke while petting some sort of octopus creature.
Ordinarily I don’t go in for “Boondock Saints” art, but this painting of the films Irish antiheroes is utterly charming.
Scott C has done an extraordinary collection of images of cinematic showdowns, and his “Gangs of New York” version is typically delightful.
Subtitled “(Irish) Drunk Fighter,” and what else needs to be said?
This one is stretching the definition of lowbrow art a bit — properly, Lewis is an American Contemporary Realist Artist. But Lewis also makes regular appearances in Juxtapoz, the sort of official organ of the lowbrow movement, and this piece works so well with the others I have selected, that I am including it.
I generally turn to Etsy to satisfy my need for twee, but it’s hard not to like the grotesque underground comix sensibility that has this angry Old Scratch peering at a clock while nymphs sob around his throne.
But, oh no, here it is, the twee. This could be one of those album covers for Blue Note jazz that Jim Flora did, and somehow it seems so right when applied to one of the deadliest breakfasts ever concocted.