From the German for trash. What appeals to the widest number of the population is often regarded as kitsch, especially a short time after its heyday has passed.

Artistic rubbish or gaudy trash. Kitsch derives from an old German word meaning to throw together. Kitsch means any artwork which is thrown together chiefly to satisfy popular taste, rather than to state anything of high moral value or to advance a new aesthetic -- plastic Madonnas, Disneyland, Muzak, hamburger stands shaped like hamburgers. In our super ironic Simpsons time it can be cool to be kitsch and listen to lounge music drinking martinis from plastic glasses. Of course in our hyper-aware build the star so you can eat them times its sometimes kitsch to be Jeff Koons hip kitsch.

art breaks your heart, only kitsch makes you rich.”
-Anton Beeke, designer

it was consumerism that created kitsch. kitsch is not to be confused with pop, for kitsch is cuter and rather less savvy. pop actually has a self-awareness about it. the kitsch is characterised by frivolous works of art having a broad popular appeal. it is often hard to distinguish between kitsch, camp & fine art. {hint, “camp” is laughable but not quite enjoyable. “kitsch” is more ingenuous; it has a sentimentality about it. as for fine art, who can ever tell?} also, historically, there was a point where there was a defined gap between the avant-garde and the kitsch - you had to be one or the other. now, {mainly because of Andy Warhol}, it is harder to make those distinctions between kitsch and art.

kitsch culture is the antithesis of creativity and innovation. Jackson Pollock feels that it is simply too easy to be “important”. when the capital of invention runs out, creative inflation & bombast sets in – then you get kitsch. Liberace’s genuine popularity reflects most people’s preference for the ersatz over the real thing.

Léon Krier, an architect, says that the kitsch object is not beautiful, it merely stands for beauty and value:

"it is the ersatz for all those values which are said to be unaffordable to the masses: Art, Taste, Authenticity, Luxury, Craftsmanship, etc. however, with the exception of some confused intellectuals, few people are deceived by the true nature of the kitsch object. to glorify kitsch as being better than the real thing underestimates, to say the least, the level of man’s intelligence and sense of dignity."


the philosopher Roger Scruton says:

"kitsch delights in the tacky, the ready made, the cut-out, using forms, colours and images which both legitimize ignorance and also laugh at it, effectively silencing the adult voice. such art eschews subtlety, allusion and implication, and in place of imagined ideals in gilded frames it offers real junk in inverted commas. it is indistinguishable in the end from advertising – with the sole qualification that is has no product to sell except itself."

in the postwar period, it began that we were defined by what we bought. not only this though; we organised our emotional life around the manufactured kitsch emotional dramas that played themselves out in top 40 music and popular film. growing up as a child in the seventies, my mother remembers feeling somewhat deflated by the fact that her family & neighbourhood lacked the organisation, the fine tuning, and the gloss of what she was watching on t.v. {primarily the Brady Bunch, as one might guess}.

Milan Kundera defines kitsch, an attitude he hates, in The Unbearable Lightness of Being:

"the objection to shit is a metaphysical one. the daily defecation session is daily proof of the unacceptability of creation. either/or: either shit is acceptable (in which case don't lock yourself in the bathroom!) or we are created in an unacceptable manner. (...) kitsch is the absolute denial of shit, in both the literal and the figurative senses of the word; kitsch excludes everything from its purview which is essentially unacceptable in human existence.
(...)
the feeling induced by kitsch must be a kind the multitudes can share. kitsch may not, therefore, depend on an unusual situation; it must derive from the basic images people have engraved in their memories. the ungrateful daughter, the neglected father, children running on the grass, the motherland betrayed, first love.

kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. the first tear says: how nice to see children running on the grass!

the second tear says: how nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass! it is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch. the brotherhood of man on earth will be possible only on a basis of kitsch."

The Macquarie Concise Dictionary says kitsch is "pretentious or worthless art, literature, etc." Gillo Dorfles (the author of the 1969 book Kitsch: The World of Bad Taste) speculates upon whether the term comes from the german verb etwas verkitschen, which means "to knock off cheaply". it has also been attributed to kitschen, a term denoting the collection of rubbish from the street. so let's try and understand kitsch without prejudice. there was once a time when only the cultural elite were able to appreciate art and literature. the other poor peasants had neither the literacy nor the means to dabble in the high arts. but along came industrialisation, which meant that it was possible to reproduce the mona lisa on a thousand tea towels. so the market opened and kitsch became available for the masses. it's still a bit of a sketchy area, nobody really knows what is at all appealing about figurines of liver-coloured puppies, and nervous bunnies. i suppose, it is easily digestible. it has also been spoken of on glowing terms regarding its lack of "the encumbrance of thought". kitsch is both sick and sweet, aspiring to nothing at all more than an invisible mediocrity. it is usually the animals that fall victim to kitsch; and Walt Disney has been the most evil of all, bestowing traits and virtues upon our feathered and furry friends which betray their nature, and reducing them to merely caricatures.

also, cletus_the_foetus says, "if kitsch is a representation of beauty, then it can't replace beauty by any means, but it can serve as a glyph or reduplication of beauty. so, kitsch is a celebration of beauty twice-removed, and since it doesn't preclude the appreciation of art, it's a kind of two-fold celebration. also, kitsch can serve as a receptacle for sentimental associations (just like any kind of childhood object, really) so it's got it going on on that level, too." kitsch is so fab; it's fun. it’s the Campbell's soup cans, the gleeful fifties housewives. it is sooo jackie o, so cut lunch. It is those sad-looking fawn figurines in ugly shades of brown you might find in your granny’s house, it is the “home, sweet home” sign on a wall, it’s wonderwoman, it’s archie comics. it's homemade lemonade, its old school arcade games like pac man. it's a universal attitude & a nostalgia for places you might not have been & experiences you might not have had.


the fact that this has been chinged so many times just proves that everybody loves kitsch!

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.