Date of Award

Spring 5-14-2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Art and Design

First Advisor

Susan Richmond

Second Advisor

Glenn Gunhouse

Third Advisor

Grace Harpster

Abstract

Norwegian figurative painter Odd Nerdrum has garnered fame and notoriety for his founding of the Kitsch Movement, a group of contemporary painters who have rejected the modern usage of the term “art” in order to return to the style of the Old Masters. When asked what the goal of a painter within the Kitsch Movement is, Nerdrum claims that it is to create masterpieces. This paper examines the seemingly paradoxical connection of the words “kitsch” and “masterpiece” through the lens of contemporary art and visual culture in order to address the state of figural painting and tradition. The argument presented here is that Nerdrum, in rejecting the term art, is in fact acting in a very artistic way that aims to reinvigorate both art and painting. However, Nerdrum’s stated goal of creating a masterpiece today is not without problems, which must be addressed in connection with the Kitsch Movement’s production.

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