Monday, September 17, 2012

A Kitschy, Kitschy Coup!

The term kitsch in art refers to a judgment of a given work as being inferior, whether it involves it being poorly executed, has a dubious choice of subject matter, an unwarranted play on the emotions, or the like.  Or sheer excess.

Here is Paul Jamin's work entitled Brennus and His Share of the Spoils.  Clearly, this 19th century work provides the viewer primarily a convenient excuse for ogling the naked bodies of the captive women (among Brennus's spoils!), and to contemplate what uses the barbarian would have for them.  Academic art in that era was rife with nudes with flimsy excuses for being that way.  Perhaps it was in response to the official morality and repression of that time.  But much of academic art, while no longer in favor, did have a serious purpose in being allegorical or exploring classical themes.  As one put it, his purpose was to depict War or Beauty allegorically rather than a scene from a war or an example of something that is beautiful.

I'll have to admit being exceedingly uncomfortable about the theme of this because of the look of sheer terror in the women, to be bound, naked, and at the pleasure of the grinning barbarian while in a room of booty and headless bodies.  But I would have to admit that this might appeal to some.  Not appealing to the gentler angels of our nature, though.

Where would it be displayed?  In some serious art museum?  Actually, I think a more valid display would call for Louis Wain's cats or Coolidge's dogs.  Now those, possibly also considered kitsch by the High Art Priestesses, does have its appeal and would warrant an art museum placement.*

Brennus and His Share of the Spoils
The Jamin one less so.
Kitsch involves a highly subjective judgment  The Brennus one manages to be beyond kitschy for me: a tour de force to push the envelope of kitschiness!  As to where something might be displayed, perhaps in an Animal House-like frat house, and taken down when they have polite mixers with more prim sororities lest the girls be grossed!
*Many might vigorously argue in opposition to this., but the cats and dogs are cute and appealing.  Perhaps I'm not beyond kitsch, myself.  Here's one by Louis Wain; form your own opinion:


Big Sky Heidi said...

The first painting is strictly a guy thing. Was he a cousin to Conan the Barbarian? I prefer the cats too.

Bilbo said...

I wouldn't normally think of the first painting as "kitsch." To me "kitsch" represents the intersection of poor taste and cloying cuteness ... plump babies and kittens with huge eyes, for example, or dogs playing poker on velvet.

Meredith said...

The first painting is simply crap!

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

The naked girls seem to be etherally pallid, like something that a Pre-Raphaelite would come up with!

bakku-shan said...

The picture of the barbarbarian is likely to invoke titters, including from the nekkid ladies.

Mike said...

I would modify the first painting. The woman with her arm up in front of her face would have a sawed off shotgun in the crook of her arm pointed at the barbarians privates.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Heidi - a ruder, cruder Conan.

Elvis - they did look pale and wan.

Meredith - I found it repellent too.

Mike - I like your thinking to improve the "art".

Bilbo - I guess I just find the first one disturbing and sordid.

Bakku-shan - He does look smug but still scary.

Grand Crapaud said...

This painting is more of a conversation-stopper, than a conversation piece!

Svejk said...

He painted naked women well.