“AVANT-GARDE AND KITSCH”. I posted here about the influential belief that “kitsch” (bad art) was bad for society. In the article I referred to yesterday, Louis Menand writes about Dwight Mcdonald and his protege Clement Greenberg, who were influential in establishing the concept of “kitsch”. Kitsch was juxtaposed to avant-garde art (which was good). Greenberg wrote (and Mcdonald edited) an important article entitled “Avant-garde and Kitsch”. Menand traces the roots of the article to Marxism: “Kitsch…was a consequence of the fact that the industrial revolution had made universal literacy possible….” Kitsch was produced by “the rise of a debased commercial culture and its profit-seeking manufacturers.” The division of tastes into two parts seems strange now, and, I think, was strange then. Tastes in art are highly individual (think of Amazon recommendations). People now carry their own favorite music around with them. As for the distinction between commercial art and avant-garde art, avant-garde art can bring in enormous revenues (Damien Hirst, of pickled shark fame, has a fortune of 215 million pounds, according to this wikipedia article.)

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