Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is for Kitsch

Kitsch was the first word that came to my mind when I thought about "k" words. It was closely followed by kitchen, but I like to rock the lesser kasbahs.

Dictionary.com defines it like so:
kitsch: –noun, something of tawdry design, appearance, or content created to appeal to popular or undiscriminating taste.

Wikipedia.com has this to say:
Kitsch... 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 ... 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.

Kitsch. We all have kitsch. I'll wager my treasured green-glazed clay pig (dubbed Quinn the Mighty Pig - Quinn being the last name of the girl who made him for me)... yes, I will wager Quinn the Mighty Pig that even Donald Trump and the Royals have kitsch tucked about their various mansions.

When I looked up the definitions, I all but hollered, "Now wait just a damned minute!" I've got a good eye for art, but I also have a good heart for kitsch. You know... that stuff you dust off every now and then, chuckle as you do, and think, "Why the hell is this so dear to me?" Maybe it's a trinket that reminds you of your favorite vacation. Maybe, like my green pig, it's a memento from an old friend that you lost touch with 35 years ago. Sure, it's not a Lladró figurine or a Fabergé egg, but does that mean it's any less appreciated?

Why does calling something kitsch have to sound like ridicule? There's really no other adequate word for it... tchotchke? trinket? bauble? Those words don't really encompass our collections of so-called meaningless art.

My beloved Quinn is not "aesthetically deficient" - he's got real character. Would anyone else think so? Maybe not. But isn't that what all art is about? There are works by every artist that I find pedestrian and jejune. There are some works by Fabergé that I find so gaudy that I wonder which Vegas casino regurgitated them. I'll take Quinn over that any time.

But, I love the word kitsch. And I love my wee collection of kitsch... a dancing Hungarian girl, a little wooden cat, Quinn, a miniature porcelain piano... stuff that means nothing to anyone but me.

Kitsch... Art... Kitsch... Art... Kitsch... Art...

Kitsch: salt and pepper shakers in the image of Campbell's Soup cans.
Art: a silkscreened picture of a Campbell's Soup can.

Huh.

Kitsch me if you can... I'll be in the kitchen making soup.

4 comments:

  1. LMAO. I personally dig odd Americana roadside kitsch myself. But shhhhh..... don't tell anyone.

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  2. You and me both with those Faberge eggs (well... some of them). Kit-not-so-Sch

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  3. It's quite coincidental that you chose "kitsch" for your "K" word because I just stumbled across it on Wikipedia yesterday when I was looking something up. Can't remember what. My curiosity is now peaked though. Excellent description and nice blog!

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  4. Thank you all!

    Blue B... I am not at all surprised! Your secret is safe with me (and the millions... no... billions who read my blog *polite cough*).

    Kit(sch)... I know! Except for the fact that I could get some good hard cash by selling one, I don't ever want to possess one!

    Matthew... I'm curious what you were looking for when you stumbled across kitsch.

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