Quotes on Kitsch
By Öde Spildo Nerdrum

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The Quote:

I listen to Tchaikovsky. He is both kitsch and profound. I love that lack of “Good taste.”

— Cy Twombly, artist

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Kitsch is weakness; it is pathetic and superficial.

Kitsch is also the underworld of art, and has been thus since the birth of “free craft” in the late 18th century.
But though the term is barely 200 years old, kitsch has always been omnipresent.

The festival: ‘Tristan.’ We all showed up in a big procession. First scene: magnificent! Second: Slightly embarrassing and kitschy. The final scene: not good either.
— Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels (from his diary)

Rogelio de Egusquiza - tristan and isolde

“Tristan and Isolde” (Death) by Rogelio de Egusquiza. A scene from Act III in Wagner’s opera, which displeased propaganda-minister Goebbels.

Kitsch is sentimental; it is personal and belongs to everyone.
The kitsch-maker does not describe his own feelings, but represents emotions and human drama that anyone can relate to.

Kitsch has a hierarchy: from implausible, poor representations to believable, well represented imagery – a successor of nature itself. This hierarchy is in contrast to art, which has no consistent system of gradation.

Kitsch is the daily art of our time, as the vase or the hymn was for earlier generations. For the sensibility it has that arbitrariness and importance which works take on when they are no longer noticeable elements of the environment. In America kitsch is Nature. The Rocky Mountains have resembled fake art for a century.
— Art critic Harold Rosenberg


The rocky mountain is the American version of kitsch. At least according to Rosenberg.  Albert Bierstadt: “The Rocky Mountains, Landers Peak”

Kitsch is fake. It is theatrical and dilettantish.

A kitsch-maker knows what he wants, an artist knows what is wanted from him. While the artist adopts his time, a person who produces kitsch chooses his heroes from all of history. He copies what is necessary to strengthen the composition, whether he is a painter, sculptor or a musician.

I did my homework and didn’t go out much, and had a very highly developed kitsch fantasy life where I dreamed of being a dancing girl.
— Actor Emily Mortimer

Kitsch is about your inner longings, the one’s you do not hide when you are alone with your love. A work of kitsch aims to represent things that matters throughout a man’s life and therefore avoids irony. Thus, kitsch has been declared an enemy of public truth, the enemy of authenticity and the enemy of art.

eugene carriere - le reveil le baiser a la mere

“The awakening kiss to the mother” by Eugène Carrière. A good example of kitsch that aims to escape the public atmosphere. 

No matter how much we scorn it, kitsch is an integral part of the human condition.
— Writer Milan Kundera


You can find more quotes on kitsch at worldwidekitsch.com/kitsch/quotes/