the story - kitsch and beyond
kitsch [Ger.,=trash]

01. Sentimentality or vulgar, often pretentious bad taste, especially in the arts: "When money tries to buy beauty it tends to purchase a kind of courteous kitsch" (William H. Gass).

02. Art or artwork characterized by sentimental, often pretentious bad taste. The aesthetic or mentality in which such art is conceived or appreciated.

o3. Culture or civilization in a degraded state of sentimentality and vulgarity.

04. Rubbishy or tasteless pseudo art of any kind.

05. Art or architecture that is sentimental or banal in tone; considered to have little or no aesthetic value.

06. Works of art and other objects (such as furniture) that are meant to look costly but actually are in poor taste.

07. Kitsch in literature and music is associated with sentimentalism as well as bad taste.

08. Kitsch (loanword from German) is a form of art that is considered an inferior, tasteless copy of an extant style of art or a worthless imitation of art of recognized value. The concept is associated with the deliberate use of elements that may be thought of as cultural icons[1] while making cheap mass-produced objects that are unoriginal. Kitsch also refers to the types of art that are aesthetically deficient (whether or not being sentimental, glamorous, theatrical, or creative) and that make creative gestures which merely imitate the superficial appearances of art through repeated conventions and formulae. Excessive sentimentality often is associated with the term.

09. Kitsch is most easily recognizable in the products of the souvenir trade, especially those attempting to capitalize on ‘high’ art (Mona Lisa ashtrays, busts of Beethoven, etc.) or on religion (flesh coloured Christs that glow in the dark); and is found in many forms of popular entertainment—the films of Cecil B. De Mille, much ‘Easy Listening’ music. It is harder to identify in written works, but the sentimental doggerel found in greetings cards is one obvious example, while the trashier end of the science fiction and sword and sorcery fiction markets provide many more pretentious cases.

10. Seen to imply characteristics that indicate sentimentality, vulgarity, or even pretentiousness, the meanings of ‘kitsch’ were intelligently explored in an essay of 1939 by the American critic Clement Greenberg entitled ‘Kitsch and Avant-Garde’. However, although the word may be found in a number of contexts in the earlier part of the 20th century, its conscious adoption in opposition to the tenets of Modernism and ‘Good Design’ may be found in a number of Postmodern designs and the activities of design groups such as Archizoom, Studio Alchimia, and Memphis. Important in this respect were the writings of the Italian historian, theorist, and critic Gillo Dorfles, particularly his 1969 collection of edited essays entitled Kitsch the World of Bad Taste, which explored many aspects of the iconography of popular culture.

11. Kitsch, term most frequently applied since the early 20th cent. to works considered pretentious and tasteless. Exploitative commercial objects such as Mona Lisa scarves and abominable plaster reproductions of sculptural masterpieces are described as kitsch, as are works that claim artistic value but are weak, cheap, or sentimental. A museum of kitsch was opened in Stuttgart.

12. The term kitsch is considered derogatory, denoting works executed to pander to popular demand alone and purely for commercial purposes rather than works created as self-expression by an artist.[2] The term is generally reserved for unsubstantial and gaudy works that are calculated to have popular appeal and are considered pretentious and shallow rather than genuine artistic efforts.[3]

beyond kitsch

In the modern tradition, the practice of having others produce your art for you has endured three phases:
1. The Andy Warhol Phase: Based on the revolutionary philosophy that if automobiles and toilet paper can be produced in factories using assembly lines, art can too. Actually just sort of a statement about capitalism and our society in general.
2. The Jeff Koons Phase: The artist has great ideas but lacks the technical knowledge to execute them, because his chosen field was unrelated- say, in his other life he might have been a commodities trader. The spirit is still there, but the originality is long gone.
3. The Damien Hirst Phase: At this point, the artist realizes that he will never become the richest artist in Britain unless he produces a lot of work - more than he can produce by hand, or is at least willing to.

Jeff Koons

White faced and hugging his chimpanzee, Jackson is not portrayed as the talented song-and-dance man everyone seems to want to remember, but an icon of the banal. Perhaps Jeff Koons is a secret moralist. Perhaps he is a great artist and perhaps he is just a great symptom. Whatever he is he has an eye for the pathologies of our time.
"Exploit the masses" and "Banality as saviour"
The art of Jeff Koons creates a world beyond taste. It rubs the least respectable mass-cultural artefacts into the noses of people brought up to think art is about the good, the true and the lofty.
In 1997 the art critic Robert Hughes pronounced a damning postmortem on Koons's career in his book American Visions. Koons, he said, "was the last art star to be cranked out by the Manhattan mechanism", a "starry-eyed opportunist", his pseudo-Baroque sculptures a calculated and obvious attempt to manipulate collectors through their desire to be "challenged". You might almost think that "Koons had psyched himself into thinking he was a latter-day Bernini. Or was it a pose? By now it hardly matters."
Jeff Koons is a brave and original artist. His art declares the weirdness of its materials, its themes, its maker and its public. He insists there is no irony in what he does. When he's gone, this denial will be forgotten and he will surely be acclaimed as a satirist. He says his art is about liberation and acceptance and embracing the mainstream. Is it also a disturbing image of the modern world? "I really don't believe in judgments; it could be looking at political systems, social hierarchies and all these areas."

Demien Hirst

Damien Hirst recently became the richest living artist on the planet. His piece For the Love of God, 2007 which is a platinum cast of a human skull encrusted with diamonds recently sold for 50 million pounds to an investment consortium. This week he will be auctioning hundreds of new works at Sotheby’s, and… bypassing the galleries, Damien hopes his ‘greatest hits’ as he calls it, to raise somewhere in the vicinity of 65 million pounds. He remains adamant however that money takes second place to the art itself. [source: art knowledge network -]
Norman Tebbit, commenting on the Damien Hirst Sensation exhibition, wrote "Have they gone stark raving mad? The works of the '"artist" are lumps of dead animals. There are thousands of young artists who didn't get a look in, presumably because their work was too attractive to sane people. Modern art experts never learn."[75] The view of the tabloid press was summed up by a Daily Mail headline: "For 1,000 years art has been one of our great civilising forces. Today, pickled sheep and soiled beds threaten to make barbarians of us all." The Evening Standard art critic, Brian Sewell, said simply, "I don't think of it as art ... It is no more interesting than a stuffed pike over a pub door. Indeed there may well be more art in a stuffed pike than a dead sheep."[Hughes called Hirst's shark in formaldehyde "the world's most over-rated marine organism" and attacked the artist for "functioning like a commercial brand", making the case that Hirst and his work proved that financial value was now the only meaning that remained for art.

...scores of assistants execute his product-lines-on-canvas, which are hugely profitable but for the most part aesthetically negligible.



kitsch and modern art

With the emergence of Postmodernism in the 1980s, the borders between kitsch and high art became blurred again. Much of Pop Art attempted to incorporate images from popular culture and kitsch; artists were able to maintain legitimacy by saying they were "quoting" imagery to make conceptual points, usually with the appropriation being ironic. In Italy, a movement arose called the Nuovi Nuovi ("new new"), which took a different route: instead of quoting kitsch in an ironic stance, it founded itself in a primitivism which embraced the ugliness and garishness, emulating it as a sort of anti-aesthetic. 

Conceptual Art, Happening, Performance Art and deconstruction posed as interesting challenges, because, like kitsch, they downplayed the formal structure of the artwork in favor of elements which enter it by relating to other spheres of life.
Leopold CJ Kowolik

The wealth and money and celebrity crash in upon the viewer. Suddenly the work reveals itself to be about value in society. 

As Ludwig Giesz said [L. Giesz, Phanomenologie des kitsches, 1971] kitsch is all about kitsch man. In our case we are the "kitsch man", tendered by our societies and as shown here on both sides of democratic fence. Now is time to use global community positioning to finally find strength to liberate ourselves from this kitsch burden. To open up our mind and achieve fundamental right to wellbeing. Right to enjoy true values of creativity, freedom to rich to human conscience? Basic right to understand that choice is in our hands, that we can use new age options [internet – net art] as a weapon to finally unite "people" to accept that we have right to be happy, never really in need to be greedy and mean to each other. Lets start practicing, look for psychographs everywhere, notice that shifting focus suddenly makes thing fundamentally changed. Lets use this effective "tool" to connect loose ends in struggle for new LIFE.

But lets not despair. I was in a position to visit two exhibitions of contemporary art couple of day apart. One was above mentioned "Pop Life - art in material world" in Ottawa and the other one was loosely translated as "Everything that was solid becomes fluid in the air" in contemporary art museum, Colecçao Berardo, in Belem, Portugal. Both are covering same time, late XX century and beginning of this one. Artists are totally different. First group was oriented only on marketing, money making and celebrity status, scandals, high end kitsch, in essence their art was no different that any objects offered to public in Pacific Mall. This was a purpose for the beginning of this article, it will help us figure out where we are and what do we need to do.

Group of artists selected for the Belem museum was completely different: optimistic, honest, forward looking, socially engaged and offering vision of hope for the future. Look to few photos, left and right, illustrating this position.

If you are honest to yourself and if you comprehend the simple truth that your well being depends on the wellbeing of all other humans, with all their different believes and heritage all over the earth, it is easy to find your place. Believe in yourself you are an ARTIST!

a.j. []

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:: created by 2010 :: last time updated 03.02.2011 at 23:41:39 ::