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  Kitsch (a word invented in Munich in 1870, from verkitschen, ‘to make money’), is art or design which is aesthetically ‘worthless’ (in terms of the ‘high’ art from which it is derived), and which is designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator of appreciation and therefore to sell. Distinguishing it from ‘art’ is difficult since, jesuitically, the matter might be argued to rest on intention and/or judgement, and this brings up questions of revivalism and of high camp. A photograph of Cabbage-patch dolls posed like the figures in Leonardo\'s Last Supper (such a thing exists) is undoubtedly kitsch but what of objects like Warhol\'s multiples or Oldenburg\'s floppy-toilet or giant clothes-peg ‘statues’? Kitsch follows taste and does not set it, so its products are always recognizable and therefore ‘safe’. High styles, if ‘wrongly’ used, or used to follow taste rather than to set it, perhaps also constitute kitsch—this is where the Warhol/Oldenburg ‘problem’ becomes acute. Is a French château, meticulously reconstructed in every detail and with perfect craftsmanship, but set down in the Sahara or in Disneyland, kitsch or art? PD MG CMcD KMcL

See also culture; style.



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