Sunday, September 23, 2007

sunday's word: kitsch

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adolphe-william bouguereau, le ravissement de psyche, 1895


sentimental, lushly romantic, or ‘cute’ art appealing to popular tastes, often ignored or held in polite disdain by critics, thus often marginalized or excluded in the canons of great art

middle-brow pretensions in the creation of ‘beauty’ + ‘good taste’

created objects trading on style, skill, + clichés, principally for commercial goals

often distinguished from ‘camp,’ which is ironic + solicits laughter—pop artists like warhol + koons may use kitsch in their art, but ironic detachment distinguishes their work from kitsch

61 masters of ‘good’ kitsch, past + present:

lawrence alma-tadema, paul avril, léon bakst, gyula benczúr, thomas hart benton, busby berkeley, leon bonnat, adolphe-william bouguereau, edward burne-jones, alexandre cabanel, paul cadmus, jean cocteau,

c.m. coolidge, pierre-auguste cot, thomas couture, jacques-louis david, claude debussy, paul delaroche, jean delville, cecil b. demille, walt disney, ronald firbank, jean-hippolyte flandrin, frank frazetta,

jean-léon gérôme, anne-louis girodet de roussy-trioson, charles gleyre, louis janmot, margaret keane, guy laliberté, frederic leighton, liberace, david ligare, hans makart, albert moore, gustave moreau, yoshitomo nara,

odd nerdrum, maxfield parrish, edgar allan poe, giacomo puccini, george quaintance, max reinhardt, norman rockwell, charles roka, warner sallman, ary scheffer, giovanni segantini, siegfried + roy, douglas sirk,

simeon solomon, haddon sundblom, tom of finland, boris vallejo, piotr tchaikovsky, gianni versace, richard wagner, john william waterhouse, george frederic watts, andrew lloyd webber, florenz ziegfeld

german ‘kitschen’—‘to oollect garbage off the street’

“kitsch or sugary trash is the beautiful minus its ugly counterpart. therefore kitsch, purified beauty, becomes subject to an aesthetic taboo that in the name of beauty pronounces kitsch to be ugly.”
--theodor adorno

“kitsch is mechanical + operates by formulas. kitsch is vicarious experience + faked sensations. kitsch changes according to style, but remains always the same. kitsch is the epitome of all that is spurious in the life of our times. kitsch pretends to demand nothing of its customers except their money—not even their time.”
--clement greenberg

“kitsch is about the eternal human questions, the pathetic, whatever its form, about what we call ‘the human’, the task of kitsch is to create a seriousness in life, at its best so sublime it will bring the laughter to a quiet. kitsch serves life + therefore seeks the individual, in contradiction to art’s irony + dispassion. . . . kitsch is passion’s form of expression at all levels, + not the servant of truth. . . . truth, kitsch leaves for art. in kitsch, skill is a decisive criteria of quality. . . . as opposed to art’s craving for the new, kitsch roams around among the familiar forms in history.”
--odd nerdrum

“those who laugh at clichés, plunge into irony.”
--odd nerdrum

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