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Background Information

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"The Widow", kitsch example of late 19th century popular lithograph of a humorous painting by Frederick Dielman.

Kitsch ( / ˈ k ɪ /; loanword from German) is a style of mass-produced art or design using cultural icons.

The term is generally reserved for unsubstantial or gaudy works, or works that are calculated to have popular appeal.

The concept of kitsch is applied to artwork that was a response to the 19th century art with aesthetics that convey exaggerated sentimentality and melodrama, hence, kitsch art is closely associated with sentimental art.


As a descriptive term, kitsch originated in the art markets of Munich in the 1860s and the 1870s, describing cheap, popular, and marketable pictures and sketches. In Das Buch vom Kitsch (The Book of Kitsch), Hans Reimann defines it as a professional expression “born in a painter's studio”. Writer Edward Koelwel rejects the suggestion that kitsch derives from the English word sketch, noting how the sketch was not then in vogue, and saying that kitsch art pictures were well-executed, finished paintings rather than sketches.

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