The Kitsch Movement

The Kitsch Movement is an international movement of classical figurative painters, which define kitsch on similar basis with Aristotle’s Techne. The movement was born in 1998, upon a new philosophical understanding of kitsch — announced by Odd Nerdrum at his retrospective show at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo. Nerdrum decleared himself a kitsch-painter and later clearified the concept of kitsch in his book On Kitsch – written together with Jan-Ove Tuv and others.


Ilya Yefimovich Repin (1844 – 1930) Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16th, 1581. Oil on canvas, 1885 (199.5 × 254 cm (78.54 × 100 in)) State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia

Historical background

According to Hans Reimann, the concept of ‘kitsch’ came into being in mid-1800´s Munich ateliers. Its purpose was to attack ”the previous culture”, making room for modern art. Historically, the term is linked with the birth of the system of the fine arts 100 years earlier. While the latter praises aesthetical indifference, ”kitsch” encompasses sentimental and narrative paintings, literature and music. Kitsch motifs typically deal with the unchanging experiences of human life. According to Tomas Kulka, these motifs could even be futher analyzed ”in terms of Jungian archetypes”.

Odd Nerdrum has always identified with these values. In the manner of classical kitsch criticism, he has thus been reproached for his concern with past masters and sentimental, pathos-filled images.

Reading Hermann Broch´s essays on kitsch represented an immediate identification on Nerdrum´s part. In 1999, he inserted three articles (as ads) in ArtNews. Together with other authors, he published the books On Kitsch (2000) and Kitsch – More than Art (2011).

To Nerdrum, the concept of kitsch represents a new superstructure for sincere and narrative figurative painting.

Kitsch is deep in its superficiality, art is superficially deep.
– Odd Nerdrum


In 2005, Jan-Ove Tuv og Helene Knoop launched, an international community for kitsch painters and hoster of the Kitsch Biennale – a travelling exhibition showing kitsch-painters from around the world.

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