Friday, 6 February 2015

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Art, Kitsch and Art History (A. Brzyski)

The Widow, Frederick Dielman
(Boston Public Library,
"On the most basic level kitsch is not art. Our ability to distinguish between the two terms - even in those instances when kitsch approximates the appearance and logic of art and art that of kitsch - marks us as members of the cultural elite. Precisely because we are aware of their crucial dissimilarity, we can identify, discuss, and diagnose a wide range of phenomena usually associated with popular or mass culture as kitsch. We can even indulge in kitsch as camp, because unlike the actual consumers of kitsch, who lack the necessary critical distance and therefore fail to recognize kitsch for what it is, we know better. As Susan Sontag noted in the 1960s, our eager willingness to watch the very best "bad movies" or to relish with a hint of revulsion the extravagantly "awful" reveals our membership in the hip inner circle. Kitsch is therefore our term for their lack of taste and as such always a value judgement made from a position absolute cultural superiority.

But what exactly is that we mean when we identify something as kitsch? At different times, different authors have used this label to denigrate nineteenth century academic paintings, anything made by Salvador Dalí, various "inappropriate" forms of art reproduction, decorative bric-a-brac, political propaganda, votive objects, erotic images, advertisements, and Hollywood movies. The diversity of this list and the seeming lack of consensus among those disparate phenomena under the same rubric may be based on external considerations rather than any qualities shared among them. The pertinent question with regards to kitsch appears to be, therefore, not what is kitsch, but rather what exactly is meant when that label is applied to something.

Brzyski, Anna (2013) Art, Kitsch and Art History. In: Kjellman-Chapin, Monica, Kitsch. History, Theory, Practice. Newcastle upon Thyne: Cambridge Scholars. p 1.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Clubs (François Prost)

François Prost is a french graphic designer and photographer. In his most recent project he photographs night clubs and discos at the outskirts of cities.

"Without the distraction of teetering crowds and flashing disco lights and blurred, eager eyes, the clubs look a little sad and depleted, and it becomes apparent just how weird and kind of dystopian some of the designs actually are." - It's nice that.


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Kitsch fix

A sample of the many "Kitsch fix"s found at Jennifer Coté's blog, Coté writes. Enjoy!

[And her top ten personal favourites]

Kitsch fix 01 - Pink gorilla, Austin, TX (

Kitsch fix 03 - Hyde Park Bar & Grill, Austin, TX (

Kitsch fix 25 - Dinosaurs, Half Moon Bay, CA (

Kitsch fix 28 - Peter Pan mini golf, Austin, TX (

Kitsch fix 42 - Hand car wash, Studio City, CA (

Friday, 25 April 2014

SketchUp competition "Out of Place".

The open competition solicited renderers to submit their most outrageous decontextualized 3D models, generated with SketchUp and Maxwell Render.

Read on.

Friday, 12 April 2013

California Crazy

Heimann, Jim (2001) California Crazy & Beyond. Roadside vernacular architecture. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Rules for modern design
"Great design comes from appropriate restrictions. We can’t just go off willy-nilly designing frivolous trite, full of decorative representations of a by-gone era. No, indeed. We’re not completely uncivilized. 

Modern Design needs rules."

Written by Jody Brown for Coffee with an Architect. Read/watch the whole article.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Polvos azules

Beneath Its Polished Surface, a Black-Market Shopping Center Thrives

In one of the busiest shopping complexes in downtown Lima, thousands of Peruvians squeeze past each other in narrow corridors and jockey for space in tiny rooms. Music blasts from stalls as shopkeepers try to lure customers with their seemingly infinite rows of goods. The smell of food and plastic lingers in the air.

This is Polvos Azules, an epicenter of retail activity in Lima and a place often referred to (in oxy moron) as the city’s “official informal market.” Legend has it that Polvos Azules, Spanish for “blue powders,” got its name in the 1540s from the material used by leather artisans to dye their skins on a small street behind the Presidential Palace. Five centuries later, the capitalist spirit embodied by those early merchants is alive and well, their leather goods replaced by faux-Levis jeans and bootleg Magic Mike DVDs.

Lima is a city where the formal and informal are naturally spliced, a condition exemplified nowhere better than the bustling and raucous stalls of the Polvos Azules. In the 1980s, semi-ambulant vendors began congregating in Polvos Azules, selling Walkmen and VHS video tapes, and eventually growing in number to upwards of 5,000. In the early ’90s, they organized, forming the Association of Owners of the Polvos Azules Commercial Center. The association negotiated a relocation program with the city, and built a large shopping complex with 2,400 stalls.

Keep reading.

Vigo, Manuel (2013) Beneath Its Polished Surface, a Black-Market Shopping Center Thrives. In: Informal city dialogues.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Tabula non rasa (S. de Maat)
"In a slum, one can often not afford the luxury of demolition. Building a larger home usually means extending an existing house by a floor on top. Choices from the past remain visible and set implications for further development. Continued building means puzzling with the existing situation. The current situation imposes restrictions on the new design. It requires much creativity and inventiveness to get all connections, both spatially and technically, of old and new quite right. Design issues and building projects are therefore in a slum more complex than average. As a result, especially proven techniques are used. Style architecture makes little chance. Avoiding risk is crucial, because of financial constraints. In his book How Buildings Learn1, Stewart Brand shows how not only the initial design determines the shape of a building, but also how the subsequent existence leads to growth and change. In a slum, especially that growth and change are built, not style and originality.

[...] Although an architect will never design a slum, the architecture of a slum is an essential source for designers."

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