“KITSCH IS A LANGUAGE COMPREHENSIBLE BY EVERYONE: IT IS SIMPLE AND DIRECT BECAUSE IT EVOKES FEELINGS AND MEMORIES FROM THE PAST”
– Nello Barile, Professor at IULM University in Milan
I am pretty sure that everyone of us, once in a lifetime, has ever seen one of those garden gnomes or one of those flowered sofa that every grandmother has in her living rooms, and maybe these are objects that in the collective imagination are considered as terrible but at the same time they excite us, they evoke in us some unforgettable moments that will always lives into our memory. This is, more or less, the purpose of Kitsch.
Kitsch is a word of German etymology that denotes rubbish. This expression is used to define things that are usually perceived as common, cheap with a popular and sentimental feeling, and often an expression of the consumeristic culture. The term Kitsch was designed as a critique of mass-production that comes out with the industrial revolution. And with it, people started to think that the new works of art were just an ugly copy of previous models that expressed instantaneous emotions without any intellectual effort, as Walter Benjamin said. These artworks imitated only the superficial “beauty”, yet not the goodness that the previous masterpieces might have offered.
So, it is common to use the word Kitsch just as a synonym for bad taste, mostly excess in a negative sense. But bad taste is something like a punch in our stomach, it can be, of course, criticized but it is eccentric, out-of-common, and it will always attracts us.
Kitsch, considered as bad taste bring us far away from the classical concept of beauty. Kitsch brings along with it a process of uglification where beauty is not considered anymore in its original sense of harmony and perfection. And if we better think about it, this make sense, because we are living in a world dominated by beauty, we fulfil our sense, or at least our eyes, with it. Ugliness is the only way to stands out and focus our attention not just on what is aesthetically pleasant, but also on the symbolism and expressive power of things.
Instead beauty, associated to good taste, is something linear and appropriate from a formal point of view that doesn’t catch our attention.
“TOO MUCH GOOD TASTE CAN BE BORING”
– Diana Vreeland
Kitsch will always arouse different emotions in everyone of us, and, as for beauty people say that they don’t like what is beautiful but only what is pleasing for them, the same can be said for Kitsch, but in this case it is beautiful what goes beyond stereotypes, shifting the attention from the object to the observer that is looking at it