The Artificial Kingdom: A Treasury of the Kitsch Experience

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9780747545354: The Artificial Kingdom: A Treasury of the Kitsch Experience
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A cultural history of kitsch (from the German "verkitschen", to make cheap, and "kitschen", to collect junk from the street). Tracing its beginnings to the 19th century, Olalquiaga describes the culture of loss and melancholy in which kitsch came to life.

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If you thought kitsch was as simple as sweatshirts embossed with sparkling kittens or flamingo snow domes, think again. Celeste Olalquiaga has gone well beyond Webster's definition of "pretentious bad taste," and devotes more than 300 pages to the subject. Her thesis?

Kitsch is the ability to surpass essential belongings and rest in more superficial ones, to create an imaginary landscape through accumulation and camouflage, and to crystallize the continuous movement of life in the permeable disguise of fantasy.
The Ph.D.-wielding Rockefeller and Guggenheim award winner postulates that the Victorian era and the industrial revolution of the late 19th century were the grandparents of kitsch. People stuffed their homes with fantasy-themed tchotchkes to fill the "existential emptiness brought about by rapid industrialization." From "petrified nature" and "melancholia artificialis" to "vegetable jewelry" and "parlor oceans," The Artificial Kingdom covers every historical nuance of tackydom and leaves no postmodern paperweight unturned.

From the Inside Flap:

al Kingdom is the first book to provide a cultural history of kitsch, an immensely popular aesthetic phenomenon that has always been disdained as "bad taste," or a cheap imitation of art. Proposing instead that kitsch is the product of a larger sensibility of loss, Celeste Olalquiaga shows how it enables the momentary re-creation of experiences that exist only as memories or fantasies. Simultaneously exposing and celebrating this process, Olalquiaga gives us a bold, trenchant analysis of what and how we see when we look at kitsch.

Tracing its beginnings to the nineteenth century--when industrialization transformed nature into an artificial kingdom of miniature scale--Olalquiaga describes the at once exhilarated and melancholic atmosphere where kitsch came to life. In an arresting mix of theory and anecdote, she examines objects from both the past and the present, probing the fluid boundaries between reality and fantasy, and finding in kitsch a phenomenon as relevant to our own t

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780679433934: The Artificial Kingdom: A Treasury of the Kitsch Experience

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ISBN 10:  0679433937 ISBN 13:  9780679433934
Publisher: Pantheon, 1998
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