Tuesday, December 29, 2009

soapbox: on kitsch [from the draft file/2009]

While I spend time catching up on rest and family time and battle continued sinus headaches that are keeping me from much reading or writing, I thought I'd publish several rough posts that never made it out of my draft file this past year. Please be gracious, the words are unedited, unfinished and, frequently, half-baked. But in an attempt to put something out into the world (and working my way backwards), I offer you unedited draft #5...

Go here to read Jeff Berryman's entire post on kitsch (a topic I will revisit I am sure):


Christian Kitsch
Christian Kitsch
Here’s another interesting review of Robert Scruton’s book Beauty.  This time the subject is high art’s trashy cousin, kitsch. Robert Fulford, of the National Post, doesn’t really let on whether he agrees with Scruton’s didsdain of kitsch or not, be he does a nice job of summarizing the issue.  On the essence of kitsch: “an imitation of human feeling wrapped in a thick layer of cuteness.”  On the problem of kitsch: “Kitsch encourages us to dwell on our own satisfactions and anxieties; it tells us to be pleased with what we have always felt and known. It reaches us at the level where we are easiest to please, a level requiring a minimum of mental effort.”  And in contrast with beauty:
At the other end of the scale (from art and beauty), kitsch (“that peculiar disease that we can instantly recognise but never precisely define, and whose Austro-German name links it to the mass movements and crowd sentiments of the 20th century”) degrades beauty through the Disneyfication of art. Kitsch trivializes human conflict and demotes feeling into bathos. It’s a mould that forms, as Scruton says, over a living culture.
What’s behind this sort of thinking is the notion that in an encounter with art,...read more...

A related post at Culture Making on a topic I'm sure will come up again:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Kinkade

No doubt many people who would praise a rich, popular, establishment-approved hack like Andy Warhol despise Kinkade for being a rich, popular, evangelical-approved hack. But I think a solid case against Kinkade can be made on purely aesthetic criteria, especially when you compare his work to a superior artist.
Consider two works of on similar themes. Both are images of the Water Tower in Chicago. Both have similar elements—a carriage, trees, people with umbrellas. Indeed, paintings are almost identical in theme and content, if not in style.

And yet the first is unquestionably technically superior. The use of texture and shadow puts the viewer within the picture. You can almost feel...read more...

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