I love kitsch in all its gaudy bad taste garishness and humour. I wanted to put a kitsch corner on my newly designed blog and I hope that you, dear reader, will post your own kitsch pieces and comment on one another’s. I felt I ought to find out a little more about Kitsch in all its manifestations.
The bible on Kitsch was published in 1969, ‘Kitsch: An anthology of bad taste’. In the preface to the book, the author, Gillo Dorfles, describes Bad Taste as an approximate and inadequate translation of the German word ‘Kitsch’. The book has essays by Hemann Broch and Clement Greenburg.
Hermann Broch was writing about Kitsch as early as 1933 and during the rise of Nazism in Germany.
“The essence of Kitsch is the confusion of the ethical category with the aesthetic category; a ‘beautiful ‘work, not a ‘good’ one, is the aim: the important thing is an effect of beauty. “
Kitsch rears its ugly head in many aspects of our life, from religion, architecture, industrial design, interior design, art and literature to pornography and politics.
It is no coincidence that totalitarian regimes such as those of the fascists in Italy and the Nazis in Germany encouraged Kitsch as it was an inexpensive way to ingratiate themselves with their subjects. (The Kitsch we speak of here is visually more sentimental than garish.) It was for this reason that the avant-garde be it art, music or literature was outlawed, not because it was a superior culture but because it is inherently a more critical culture.
The concise Oxford English Dictionary defines kitsch as ‘worthless pretentiousness in art’. Yet during the twenty first century it has become a sub culture providing an antidote to the controlled minimalistic environments of serious design. It is the artefacts of the late twentieth and twenty first century that we will be looking at in Kitsch Corner.