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In the late 20th and 21st centrury diverse forms of commonplace and popular art appeared to be coalescing into a formidable faction of new painted realism. The phenomenum owed its genesis to a number of factors. The new school of imagery was a product of art that didn’t fit comfortably into the accepted definition of fine art. It embraced some of the figurative graphics that formal art academia tended to reject: comic books, movie posters, trading cards, surfer art, hot rod illustration, to mention a few.
This alternative art movement found its most congealing participant in one of America’s most opprobrious and maligned underground artists, the painter, Robert Williams. It was this artist who brought the term “lowbrow” into the fine arts lexicon, with his ground breaking 1979 book, The Lowbrow Art of Robt. Williams. It was from this point that he seminal elements of West Coast Outlaw culture slowly started to aggregate.
Williams pursued a career as a fine arts painter years before joining the art studio of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth in the mid-1960’s. And as this position as the famous custom car builder’s art director, he moved into the rebellious, anti-war circles of early underground comix.