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The Widow, kitsch example of late-19th-century popular lithograph of a humorous painting by "Frederick Dielman
Cottage-shaped tea pot and milk jug

Kitsch ("/kɪ/; "loanword from "German), also called cheesiness or tackiness, is art or other objects that appeal to "popular rather than "high art tastes. Such objects are sometimes appreciated in a knowingly "ironic or humorous way.[1][2][3] The word was first applied to artwork that was a response to certain divisions of 19th-century art with "aesthetics that favored what later art critics would consider to be exaggerated "sentimentality and "melodrama. Hence, 'kitsch art' is closely associated with 'sentimental art'. Kitsch is also related to the concept of "camp, because of its humorous and "ironic nature.

To brand visual art as "kitsch" is generally "pejorative, as it implies that the work in question is gaudy, or that it serves a solely ornamental and decorative purpose rather than amounting to a work of true artistic merit. The "chocolate box artist "Thomas Kinkade (1958–2012), whose idyllic landscape scenes were often lampooned by art critics as "maudlin" and "schmaltzy", is considered a leading example of contemporary kitsch.[4][5][6]

The term is also sometimes applied to music or literature.[7]



As a descriptive term, kitsch originated in the art markets of "Munich in the 1860s and the 1870s, describing cheap, popular, and marketable pictures and sketches.[8] In Das Buch vom Kitsch (The Book of Kitsch), "Hans Reimann defines it as a professional expression "born in a painter's studio".

The study of kitsch was done almost exclusively in German until the 1970s, with "Walter Benjamin being an important scholar in the field.[9]

"Modernist writer "Hermann Broch argues that the essence of kitsch is imitation: kitsch mimics its immediate predecessor with no regard to ethics—it aims to copy the beautiful, not the good.[10] According to Walter Benjamin, kitsch is, unlike art, a utilitarian object lacking all critical distance between object and observer; it "offers instantaneous emotional gratification without intellectual effort, without the requirement of distance, without sublimation".[9]

Kitsch is less about the thing observed than about the observer.[11] According to "Roger Scruton, "Kitsch is fake art, expressing fake emotions, whose purpose is to deceive the consumer into thinking he feels something deep and serious."[12]

Tomáš Kulka in Kitsch and Art starts from two basic facts that kitsch "has an undeniable mass-appeal" and "considered (by the art-educated elite) bad" and then proposes three essential conditions:

  1. Kitsch depicts a beautiful or highly emotionally charged subject;
  2. The depicted subject is instantly and effortlessly identifiable
  3. Kitsch does not substantially enrich our associations related to the depicted subject.[13][14][15]



The "Kitsch movement is an international movement of classical painters, founded["clarification needed] in 1998 upon a philosophy proposed by "Odd Nerdrum[16] and later clarified in his book On Kitsch[17] in cooperation with Jan-Ove Tuv and others, incorporating the techniques of the "Old Masters with narrative, "romanticism, and emotionally charged imagery.


Some genres of composed music, like "Epic music are considered kitsch for their over-romantic or arduous style.[18]

See also[edit]

Notable examples


  1. ^ American Heritage Dictionary
  2. ^ Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary
  3. ^ Oxford Living Dictionaries
  4. ^ Orlean, Susan (April 8, 2012). "Thomas Kinkade: Death of a Kitsch Master". "The New Yorker. Retrieved September 23, 2015. 
  5. ^ Mike Swift, Painter Thomas Kinkade faced turmoil during his final years, San Jose Mercury News, April 8, 2012, accessed April 8, 2012.
  6. ^ Perl, Jed (14 July 2011). "Bullshit Heaven". Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  7. ^ "Scruton, Roger (Feb 21, 2014). "A fine line between art and kitsch". Forbes. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  8. ^ Calinescu, Matei. Five Faces of Modernity. Kitsch, p. 234.
  9. ^ a b Menninghaus, Winfried (2009). "On the Vital Significance of 'Kitsch': Walter Benjamin's Politics of 'Bad Taste'". In Andrew Benjamin. Walter Benjamin and the Architecture of Modernity. Charles Rice. pp. 39–58. "ISBN "9780980544091. 
  10. ^ Broch, Hermann (2002). "Evil in the Value System of Art". Geist and Zeitgeist: The Spirit in an Unspiritual Age. Six Essays by Hermann Broch. Counterpoint. pp. 13–40. "ISBN "9781582431680. 
  11. ^ Eaglestone, Robert (May 25, 2017). The Broken Voice: Reading Post-Holocaust Literature. Oxford University Press. p. 155. "ISBN "0191084204. 
  12. ^ Scruton, Roger. "A Point of View: The strangely enduring power of kitsch", BBC News Magazine, December 12, 2014
  13. ^ Tomas, Kulka (1996). Kitsch and art. Pennsylvania State Univ. Press. "ISBN "0271015942. "OCLC 837730812. 
  14. ^ Kulka, Tomas (1988-01-01). "KITSCH". The British Journal of Aesthetics. 28 (1): 18–27. "doi:10.1093/bjaesthetics/28.1.18. "ISSN 0007-0904. 
  15. ^ Higgins, Kathleen Marie (1998-01-01). "Review of Kitsch and Art". The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. 56 (4): 410–412. "doi:10.2307/432137. 
  16. ^ E.J. Pettinger [1] "The Kitsch Campaign" [Boise Weekly], December 29, 2004.
  17. ^ Dag Solhjell and Odd Nerdrum. On Kitsch, Kagge Publishing, August 2001, "ISBN "8248901238.
  18. ^

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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