Applying Philosophy of Art in a Global World
Edited By Zoltan Somhegyi and Max Ryynänen
6 The Varieties of Kitsch: Ethical, Artistic and Political Dimensions (Katya Mandoki)
AbstractHermann Broch, the initiator of the discussion on the concept of kitsch, grappled with a variety of meanings to the term that almost a century later still remain open and ambiguous. He claims that “[t];he essence of kitsch is the confusion of the ethical category with the aesthetic category; a ‘beautiful’ not a ‘good’ one is the aim; the important thing is an effect of beauty.” (Notes on the problem of kitsch, 71). This proposition raises several questions. Where exactly does the kitsch factor reside: in the category confusion, in the lures of beauty, in the negligence of the ethical or in the search of effectism? In this chapter I will explore how or why an aesthetic category challenges art’s basic assumptions such as the pursuit of beauty, slides beyond its original field and becomes an ethical and even a political category. It is intriguing to revise this particular concept as a common node to cross-disciplinary approaches and its implications.
Keywords: kitsch, kitschmensch, künstlerkitsch, hyperkitsch, mystikitsch, ethikitsch, kitschaktivism
Kitsch is a German word coined in the 19th century and popularized in the early 20th century that, lacking exact translation in other languages, roughly denotes bad taste or a pretentious imitation of something of value, the aesthetically fake or simply sentimentalism, the corny and tacky. Various authors attempted to define kitsch from philosophical, artistic, and ethical approaches without a conclusive result, since while it is understood as a kind of art...
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