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Old 07-25-2019, 01:34 AM
Hairy wolf Hairy wolf is offline
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

Arty mentioned Jeff Koons who may be the most expensive living “kitschioner” ever. His extremely kitschy Rabbit just sold for $80M at auction:

https://www.google.es/amp/s/www.nyti...koons.amp.html
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Old 07-25-2019, 04:29 AM
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

Quote:
Originally Posted by caldwell.brobeck
I would think there’s actually a pretty close connection between the velvet Elvises and the Communist kitsch that infested Kundera’s native Czechoslovakia. Is there any great difference between the social implications of a velvet Elvis and some work of Socialist Realism? It’s been 30 years since I read his The Unbearable Lightness of Being, maybe I’ll restart that next week.
Cheers,
Chris

I don't see any resemblance at all.
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Old 07-25-2019, 09:25 AM
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hairy wolf
Hey Chris, never read The unbearable lightness of being, but loved the movie!
Two great actors: Juliette Binoche and Jeremy Irons.
I never saw the movie, but apparently it isn't much like the book. Apparently because of that, Kundera refuses any film adaptations of his other work. So now I'm going to have to watch the movie!
Cheers;
Chris
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Old 07-25-2019, 10:30 AM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

I try not to use a big vocabulary to describe art, styles or genres, probably because my memory sucks now that I am pushing 70.

What I do find is that the difference between work that I find appealing and stuff that I find appalling, doesn't seem to have a very wide transition area like I would expect. It is usually an abrupt, dead horse laying in the road, standing on the brakes kind of difference. The impression comes on the instant I look at the piece, no pondering or analysis required...EVER.
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Old 07-25-2019, 10:38 AM
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

Some few decades ago the Museum of Modern Art staged an exhibition that explored the concepts of “high” and “low” art. I actually just picked up a copy of the exhibition catalog not too long ago. It was argued that the line between “high” and “low” was so blurred under Modernism as to become meaningless. “Low Art” was a term applied to the art embraced by the masses. It was intended as a qualitative term... a pejorative... But was this any more than a snobbishness rooted in social class?

Are we to assume that the populist/popular works of art by Daumier, Mucha, Rackham, or the finest illustrative artists of the 19th and 20th centuries are inherently “Low Art” and inferior to works of “High Art” Damien Hirst, Julian Schnabel, Jeff Koons, Tracy Emin, etc...? What of the works by George Grosz, Otto Dix, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, etc... that employed forms taken from popular/populist art? As with the Calvin and Hobbes comic, are we to assume that merely changing the context... placing the comic strip within the “high art” gallery makes it inherently more profound... more intellectually challenging... better? Is Warhol inherently superior to R. Crumb (who asked this question himself) or Calvin & Hobbes’ Bill Waterson? Are the finest works of Jazz or of Broadway and Hollywood inferior to Schoenberg, Webern, Ligeti, or Stockhausen. Does anybody actually listen to Stockhausen?

Bernstein... firmly enshrined within the ranks of “High Art” in the realm of music as the conductor of the New York Philharmonic... who was behind some of the most admired recordings of classical music (especially his Mahler and Haydn)... also based his greatest composition (West Side Story) on Jazz and other American populist music. He also notoriously declared that the Beatles were the greatest songwriters since Schubert . Phillip Glass... another classical composer (Minimalist) firmly ensconced within the “High Art” realm, suggested that the only real difference in the arts is between the inventors and those who build upon their innovations... and he admits that having listened to any number of works of Pop Music that built upon some of his own innovations, he realized that the works of those who build upon the ideas and concepts of the inventors (High Art?) is often better.

The concept of “High Art” vs “Low Art” seems to be rooted in the idea that the taste of a given audience... the wealthy and the highly educated... is superior to that of others... and thus the art they favor is equally superior. Looking at the art promoted in the major art galleries and the major art periodicals today I question this.
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Old 07-25-2019, 11:01 AM
Hairy wolf Hairy wolf is offline
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

“He also notoriously declared that the Beatles were the greatest songwriters since Schubert”
If Bernstein said so I’d certainly agree. The music of the combo of Lennon and McCartney and add Harrison’s output to it was and still is the greatest composition of the last 150 years or so. My opinion. Please don’t jump the gun.
We will never know for sure, but I am certain that the music of the Fab Four will be listened to in a thousand years and beyond. Along with Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Bach and...... Schubert....😉
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Old 07-25-2019, 02:29 PM
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

As a teen, I used to wonder why Bernstein didn't call the Beatles the greatest songwriters since Beethoven or Mozart rather than Schubert... as great as I realized Schubert was. It was only later that I realized just what praise Bernstein had offered when I discovered that Schubert is generally recognized as the greatest songwriter in classical music.
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Old 07-25-2019, 04:36 PM
AllisonR AllisonR is offline
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianvds
But as an aside, something that strikes me about Kinkade's paintings is that few people would object to such a scene in real life; most would find it quite breathtaking. It's kind of weird that something that would be considered beautiful in reality strikes us as vulgar when it is in a painting.

Actually, this scene would freak me out in real life. I would definitely be scared and assume that either I was hallucinating or that I was on a holodeck (holographic images in virtual reality).

Quote:
Originally Posted by caldwell.brobeck
I tend to lean in Roger Scruton’s (and Milan Kundera’s, and Oscar Wilde’s ) direction on this: tend to lean in Roger Scruton’s (and Milan Kundera’s, and Oscar Wilde’s ) direction on this:

Quote:
The Czech novelist Milan Kundera made a famous observation. "Kitsch," he wrote, "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! " Kitsch, in other words, is not about the thing observed but about the observer. It does not invite you to feel moved by the doll you are dressing so tenderly, but by yourself dressing the doll. All sentimentality is like this — it redirects emotion from the object to the subject, so as to create a fantasy of emotion without the real cost of feeling it. The kitsch object encourages you to think, "Look at me feeling this — how nice I am and how lovable." That is why Oscar Wilde, referring to one of Dickens's most sickly death-scenes, said that "a man must have a heart of stone not to laugh at the death of Little Nell".

This sums it up so well. If anyone is interested the book Kitsch and Art
by Tomas Kulka is a quick read. Kitsch makes us feel like we are feeling in tandem with others. It is the reason we buy the 3 inch version of Michelangelos David when in Italy or the San Francisco trolley car as a Christmas ornament. Not because we think they are of any real value, or even a good replica of the original, but because we have been there with the rest of humanity and want to share in this joy with our friends and family.

I made kitsch art. I try not to, but I do it anyway. Not sure if I just can't help myself, or if I am hopelessly tacky, or if I lack self discipline. I have found though, that when describing art as totally kitsch and admitting it up front, then suddenly people take it more seriously, as if by admitting it is kitsch then you suddenly are above it being kitsch. It's not true, the work is still kitsch, but others seem to think it is less so. I am in a group show in the fall and I entered a painting and a sculpture. The painting is fine but the sculpture is totally kitsch. So in the submission I described the sculpture as totally kitsch. By admitting it head on and describing it as such, the curator suddenly takes it more seriously, as if by saying it is kitsch I have elevated it above kitsch. Of course I haven't it is still totally kitsch, but hey, I am going to do what works.
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Old 07-25-2019, 05:36 PM
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

Bernstein believed that the greatest force of social change of the 20th Century was... Elvis.
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Old 07-25-2019, 08:14 PM
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hairy wolf
Arty mentioned Jeff Koons who may be the most expensive living “kitschioner” ever. His extremely kitschy Rabbit just sold for $80M at auction:

https://www.google.es/amp/s/www.nyti...koons.amp.html

If Jeff Koons is kitsch then it is a form of kitsch that, for me at least, doesn't seem to match the definitions proposed by Kundera (as quoted by Chris) or expanded on by Allison, and those definitions for kitsch sound right to me, as I would think of kitsch.

Koons' sculptures don't trigger any kind of sentimental reaction for me. The balloon dogs are colourful and can at least liven up a drab public square. But I don't find them making me feel anything more than that. I don't feel myself sharing anything with humanity. Perhaps others do? But if they don't do that are they kitsch? Are Louise Bourgeois' huge spiders kitsch? If they inspire anything in me when I see one of them it is a kind of low intensity phobia.
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Old 07-25-2019, 11:33 PM
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

Quote:
Originally Posted by caldwell.brobeck
I would think there’s actually a pretty close connection between the velvet Elvises and the Communist kitsch that infested Kundera’s native Czechoslovakia. Is there any great difference between the social implications of a velvet Elvis and some work of Socialist Realism? It’s been 30 years since I read his The Unbearable Lightness of Being, maybe I’ll restart that next week.
Cheers,
Chris

As I recall he said quite a bit about kitsch in that one too. In fact, it now appears he was a bit obsessed with kitsch, but one must understand where he was coming from: as you note, a country completely infested and taken over by it.

Not that it was just the commie kitsch that got to him either: he had similar things to say about all those ornate gravestones in cemeteries. "Before oblivion, we are turned into kitsch," is how he put it. One can hope that he opted for a sky burial. :-)

I do like the definition of kitsch you note in a previous post: that it allows us to feel a sort of facsimile of emotion without having to actually be invested in it. Or perhaps even feeling very powerful and genuine emotions but without ever analyzing them or asking yourself whether they are justified. People have gone to war and died because they fell for patriotic kitsch, without ever asking questions.

But I find I am less and less interested in trying to work out what exactly kitsch is or whether I am engaged in it or whether it is a good thing or a bad one or neutral. Perhaps I am turning shallow as I age, but I find there are lots and lots of questions which I enthusiastically debated in the past that I have largely lost interest in. If I were at all capable of painting like Kinkade, I would not have hesitated a moment - the man after all made a fortune. :-)
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Old 07-26-2019, 02:57 AM
Hairy wolf Hairy wolf is offline
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

StLukesguild, while we’re into the subject of Beatles, here’s one of the greatest songs ever written (George Harrison’s). Amazing troupe of musicians all on one stage. Prince’s (RIP) solo is certainly up there among the top 10 of all time.
An anecdote: when the Beatles first recorded the song George asked Eric Clapton to come to the studio to play the solo. Eric, who was a close friend but certainly not yet up to Beatles level of fame, first refused the offer and later reluctantly agreed. Hence the solo in the final track is played by Clapton, even though George could do it himself.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6SFNW5F8K9Y
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Old 07-26-2019, 04:27 AM
AllisonR AllisonR is offline
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

Quote:
Originally Posted by ColinS
If Jeff Koons is kitsch then it is a form of kitsch that, for me at least, doesn't seem to match the definitions proposed by Kundera (as quoted by Chris) or expanded on by Allison, and those definitions for kitsch sound right to me, as I would think of kitsch.

Koons' sculptures don't trigger any kind of sentimental reaction for me. The balloon dogs are colourful and can at least liven up a drab public square. But I don't find them making me feel anything more than that. I don't feel myself sharing anything with humanity. Perhaps others do? But if they don't do that are they kitsch? Are Louise Bourgeois' huge spiders kitsch? If they inspire anything in me when I see one of them it is a kind of low intensity phobia.

Koons is preemptive kitsch - it's so obviously kitsch that he can say it is so kitsch that it is no longer kitsch. I am thinking of the butterfly paintings, the sculpture of Michael Jackson.... it's so obviously kitsch that it should transcend kitsch. Except, in my view, it doesn't. It's just a newer set of the emperors new clothes.
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Old 07-26-2019, 08:00 AM
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hairy wolf
StLukesguild, while we’re into the subject of Beatles, here’s one of the greatest songs ever written (George Harrison’s). Amazing troupe of musicians all on one stage. Prince’s (RIP) solo is certainly up there among the top 10 of all time.
An anecdote: when the Beatles first recorded the song George asked Eric Clapton to come to the studio to play the solo. Eric, who was a close friend but certainly not yet up to Beatles level of fame, first refused the offer and later reluctantly agreed. Hence the solo in the final track is played by Clapton, even though George could do it himself.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6SFNW5F8K9Y

I doubt George could have done it himself, or at any rate, not as well as Clapton. Why else would he have asked? He came out of the Chet Atkins school via rockabilly and was of limited talent as a lead player.

Prince put some flash into it, but I would call it in the top ten of all time, and in my opinion he didn't serve the needs of the song. As usual, he served the needs of Prince.

We now return you to our original topic.
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Last edited by musket : 07-26-2019 at 08:04 AM.
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Old 07-26-2019, 12:24 PM
olive.oyl olive.oyl is offline
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

Excuse me boys as I slip back into the topic.

I like kitsch. But my kitsch is not gonna be YOUR kitsch. I kind of think of it like the “animal shelter of artistic human endeavors” and my own work, btw, is much more kitsch than grand and noble and pure (or whatever “high art” is supposed to be, or say, or do.) I think the way it works on us is that you stumble upon something that for some inexplicable reason, captures you because it stirs something. Maybe it’s the oddness, quirkiness, cuteness, innocence, or sadness, or whatever, and maybe that’s why it’s hard to define. You can choose to walk past it like a whimpering puppy with pleading eyes or…you can pick it up and adopt it. You bring it home, clean it up, and put in a place of honor, and there…it becomes something significant and special. Or at least it becomes a good conversation piece…a show(offy) thing that makes you happy. How can that be bad?

The problem for me and my old-age kitchiness is that I’m in a brutal toss out, pare down, minimalist phase of life and if I adopt (yet another) piece of kitsch, it better have a clear purpose and designated spot in the house. I’ve taken in enough strays and know I could never live with too much of them. It would suffocate.

Anyway, I just had fun looking online and really, any topic (hippies, animals, folk art, circus, mugshots, vases, religions, cowboys) would yield a treasure trove. If I came across any of these objects in the real world…I would love them and it doesn’t matter if they’re ironic or silly, aesthetically “pure” or not, modern or old. It…boils down to some kind of weirdo chemistry. What kind of kitsch do YOU like?

This is vaguely sexual, isn’t it? Or maybe only in my mind. I must have this.


This is how I like my men…squished flat into a memorative plate.


I already have a lenticular Jesus+Mary in a frame. I can easily live with this, too.


Lady Head vases led me to this Frida vase. Charmingly corny.


Speaking of heads…I’ll frame this and hang it next to the bookcase. Haha.


I don’t know for what purpose on earth this exists. But…total love.
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