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Feb 14, 2013

Is it “Wow” or “Yuck”?

(About Kitsch in Art)
Post no. 1
Valentine’s Day is an appropriate  excuse  to talk about
Kitsch, since its images are well-known clichés.
The term Kitsch (German in origin), refers to a mass-produced art
or design,
and  is used to describe gaudy objects, which are considered to have popular appeal.

 Its historical origins go back to the recently unified Germany,
 i.e. to the 1870s. Kitsch described objects and a way  of  life ,
which were the result of the vast urbanization and the mass-
production due to the industrial revolution.
From its very beginning, it was more popular and more consumed than
classical Art.
From the very beginning, and in spite of its popularity, Kitsch had
negative connotations, and  was considered “low” and “bad” art.
We can identify three main  characteristics  in a Kitschy object:

 1.       The subject-matter is highly emotionally  charged  and appealing.
How can one be indifferent in front of a baby, a child
(especially if he cries…) a sad clown, or a cute pet?

  • Butterfly Princess Newborn Headband Photo Prop Glitter Butterfly Baby Headband

2.    Kitsch is based on deeply rooted and widely recognized conventions and icons
       of its time:Kiss, heart = love. Eifel tower=Paris and so on.
It is immediately understood by the viewer or the consumer.
3.   Its target is – amusement!  It is made for the hard-working and poorly-educated masses, seeking a relief from boredom and avoiding intellectual effort.

Kitsch is based on reality, but it optimizes and beautifies it. 




In the beginning of the 20th century, the elitist  Avant Garde
movements , developed a repulsive and patronizing attitude towards
Kitsch. “Low” and “bad” Art was driven out of the museums.
But not for long.

Gradually, artists assimilated the esthetics of mass production, first
in Europe, and towards the mid-century, mainly  in the United States.
The American Pop-Art embraced popular and Kitschy images, and used
Mass-production  techniques.

       Roy Lichtenstein, A kiss, 1962


       Claes Oldenburg, Floor Burger ( Giant Hamburger), 1962.

The artists described urban and suburban popular culture, but by taking
 this “low art” out of its original context,they turned it into symbols,
 with wider meaning.
Low Art re-entered the museums in the guise of symbols…

 R. Hamilton ,
Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?
collage, 1956.

      Andy Warhol (1928-1987), Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962), 1962, Screen PrintPlease ioin Pin Up (A Documentary) on  Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter

      Andy Warhol,  Marilyn Monroe 1962.

This is all for today.
The Kitsch story will continue in my next post.

What is your favorite  photo in this post? 
Leave your comment below.