Although the phrase “underground art” was first coined in the 1960s, underground artists have existed for far longer. Even the ancient Romans and Greeks were graffiti aficionados, scribbling names, insults, and witty phrases all across the ancient world.
Counterculture thinkers, writers, painters, and other creatives have existed for as long as there was a common culture to challenge! Today, of course, underground art has evolved beyond crude inscriptions and has become a world of its own.
If you want to learn more about the modern world of underground art, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn our favorite facts about this eclectic art world!
1. The Anonymous Face of the Movement
Easily the most iconic name in the underground art world is Banksy. Banksy creates a variety of graffiti pieces that challenge consumerism and promote an environmentally responsible, anti-war perspective. If you don’t know much about him, check out this piece on Who is Banksy? for a primer on this artist.
He keeps himself anonymous and his identity has never been revealed, in an attempt to keep the focus on the art rather than the artist. The combination of his notoriety and his anonymity has made his work a hot commodity. He now has an estimated net worth of over $50 million!
2. It’s a Global Movement
Every country has its own underground art scene, which draws attention to national issues. The scene in London fights against homogeny and a rapidly more conventional existence. The scene in Thailand calls attention to the monarchy and martial law that have prevailed for decades.
Underground arts aren’t just a way for artists to create unconventional artwork, they’re a way to challenge the status quo and fight back against oppressive regimes.
3. There are Many Styles
Although Banksy and graffiti are the most iconic pieces of underground art, the movement has many different styles from pop art to minimalism.
For instance, there’s the little-known “Funk Art Movement.” Funk art is centered in absurdism and the grotesque, creating sculptures that make the viewer a little uncomfortable. Examples might include a sculpture of a typewriter with toes instead of keys.
These pieces challenge the notion that art has to be beautiful, and instead create something a little off-putting that sits with the viewer.
4. Digital Underground Art
With the advent of cryptocurrencies, the underground art world has entered the 21st century. It’s suddenly very easy to digitize art and buy and sell unique pieces.
This means that underground art can be created as NFTs, and bought and sold for bitcoin. The underground art world has never been more accessible now that it’s just a click away.
The Wide World of Underground Art
Underground art isn’t an easy movement to capture in a single article. There are thousands of artists working in thousands of styles to promote different perspectives and challenge popular culture. In this article, we’ve given a bit of an overview of the movement but there’s so much left to learn!
For more on underground art and the latest art news, check out our blog!
Alison Lurie is a farmer of words in the field of creativity. She is an experienced independent content writer with a demonstrated history of working in the writing and editing industry. She is a multi-niche content chef who loves cooking new things.