A few years ago, Matt Dukes Jordan compiled Wierdo Deluxe to showcase today’s leading lowbrow and pop surrealist artists.  With Weirdo Noir, he crawls into the cracks of the lowbrow genre to harvest some of the darker Gothic* works contained therein.

Jordan’s introductory essay is a glimpse into the human obsession with what goes bump in the night, and earlier art movements that precursor today’s noir creatives. His timeline of dark imagery through the ages is a real treat and he takes pains to place lowbrow art into the context of today’s culture, contrasting it with the kitschy and commercial imagery it appropriates.

A recurring theme that peeks out, particularly as one gets into the artist interviews, is the subtle (or not) push-back-slash-osmosis that happens between this populist lowbrow movement and the cultured high art world. (A taste of that tension here.) But this book is not about art theory, history, or criticism: it is first and foremost a very accessible showcase of some delightfully dark contemporary lowbrow artists and the work they produce.

I enjoyed all the artists featured, especially what they shared about their process and inspirations, though I sometimes found myself wishing for more info: The “interview” portion was just them answering a set of standard questions. Quite a few times I wished I could ask some follow-ups to something they said. For me, Wierdo Noir’s main draw is page after page of artwork. I keep it handy by my desk to leaf through whenever I need some inspiration. If I had to select a small handful of the artists therein that really caught my eye, hmmm…. I’d say Attaboy, with his tripped out doe eyed monsters (and his colors too), Ray Caesar for the OMG chill-me-to-the-bone with sweet creepiness, Dan Kennedy for his dark painterly carnavalesque canvases, Laurie Lipton for her freaking detail with a pencil, Sara McPherson for painting the stuff I wish I could paint, and Annie Owens for all the angsty mascara running down cheeks.

But really, all of them together make for a nicely gritty collection. Here are links to the twenty four artists featured in Weirdo Noir, then a virtual sneak peak through it’s pages. Enjoy!

Attaboy ** Ana Bagayan ** Glenn Barr ** Jonathan Bergeron ** Ray Caesar ** Jason d’Aquino
Bob Dob ** Alex Gross ** Fred Harper ** Annette Hassell ** Sarah Joncas ** Dan Kennedy
Laurie Lipton ** Travis Louie ** Tara McPherson ** Skot Olsen ** Nathan Ota ** Annie Owens  Anthony Pontius ** Isabel Samaras ** Shag ** Dani Tull ** Brian Viveros ** Edward Walton Wilcox



*Dahlia Jane, spooky batchelorette of all things dark and creepy, took some issue with the tone of the book not being dark enough, wondering why some art/artists were featured and others were not.  It’s a valid point, but my own thought is that Jordan did a good job giving a diverse and accessible glimpse into this sub-genre so those being introduced to it for the first time could decide if they want to poke deeper and find “the most depraved and twisted images being produced in the lowbrow genre“.


Many thanks to @johnremy, for introducing me to this book, and to the lowbrow movement in general 🙂

7 Responses to Art Books: Weirdo Noir, by Matt Dukes Jordan

  1. Thanks, Galen.

    Not generally my preferred style of art, but clearly and firmly in *your* wheelhouse. 🙂

  2. Hello Galen, Thank you so much for this thoughtful review. Very nice introduction / overview / appraisal of the book. For the most part, such books are a labor of love, so appreciation of the effort (such as this friendly review) is most welcome. I like how you responded to what Jane said.. thank you. That’s interesting about the interviews — I tried to go well beyond what you might find in a magazine and really get into the inspiration and working process of the artists — and in quite a few cases I had to go back to them several times and say “please give me more detail and more depth ” —- I like the idea of somewhat the same questions (there are a few variations here and there) because you can then compare the statements and ideas of different artists when responding to the same question……. Thank you again ! cheers, matt

    • Galen Dara says:

      Matt, you are welcome! And thank you for your responses here. You assembled a fascinating book and I am in your debt. I appreciate the clarification about the interview portion (I absolutely loved reading what the artists had to say about their work.) Ultimately, the book provided a great jumping off point for me to search further into some of the additional questions I had about the various artists. Thank you, very much, for that platform.


      • Hi Galen, You’re welcome! Glad it was inspiring — leading you on to further investigation! I looked at your site and like your art ! Very cool and darkly Romantic…. thanks again ! cheers, matt

  3. PS — check out my video about Robert Williams — the founder of the whole lowbrow movement….. his early “lowbrow” art was being shown in the late 1970s in the 1st wave of punk music / art / video etc …… in LA …….. he really inspired a whole bunch of artists and the entire lowbrow movement followed…. in endless variations !

    Take a look !

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