Greg posted a comment on my last blog, and mentioned Vladimir Tretchikoff and his famous Chinese Girl/Blue Lady. I certainly remember Tina looking down on me from somebody’s front room, above the fireplace, somewhere.
It used to be quite easy to sneer at kitsch and artists such as Tretchikoff, but post-modernist irony and artists such as Jeff Koons have made the whole subject a lot more complicated.
‘Taste’ is tough to define, but some kitsch, although perhaps technically skillful, is simply predictable and/or conceptually vacuous – although it still tells us something about the culture it was born in, reflecting perceptions and ideas, and obviously strays into well-trodden Theory of Knowledge territory.
Why do people choose art to put on the wall in their front or living room, and what are the things they consider when making their choice? Are they selecting it for themselves and/or for their guests? Does it represent any kind of statement about their aspirations? Is ‘sentimentality’ a valid reason to make or buy art?
Students still sometimes go for sentimentality, but over the years I think I’ve also seen a growth in scepticism. And for some students ‘avoiding the obvious’ and demonstrating confidence and inventiveness is a real challenge.
Studying and learning more about relevant art in their investigation workbook can help to steer them clear of inadvertent kitsch – but kitsch may be an area they want to creatively explore!?
Wikipedia definition of kitsch
“Kitsch (/ˈkɪtʃ/; loanword from German) 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. The concept is associated with the deliberate use of elements that may be thought of as cultural icons while making cheap mass-produced objects that are unoriginal. 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”.
The same article refers to Vladimir Tretchikoff
Check out Flickr Vintage Ladies page for more kitsch female portraits.