Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

The Artificial Kingdom

On the Kitsch Experience

2002
Author:

Celeste Olalquiaga

The Artificial Kingdom

A cultural history of the human desire behind the emergence of kitsch.

From her pet glass-globed hermit crab Rodney to the Victorian era’s Crystal Palace—Celeste Olalquiaga offers a meditative look at the origins of kitsch and what kitsch tells us about the conflicts between the real and the artificial, tradition and modernity, nostalgia and melancholy.

Ingenious, fascinating, and melancholic.

Peter Woolen, London Review of Books

From her pet glass-globed hermit crab Rodney to the Victorian era’s Crystal Palace—Celeste Olalquiaga offers a meditative look at the origins of kitsch and what kitsch tells us about the conflicts between the real and the artificial, tradition and modernity, nostalgia and melancholy. Olalquiaga artfully traces this form to the mid-1800s and establishes kitsch as a sensibility of loss—a yearning for objects to help recapture the past—and explains how these artifacts respond to a deep-seated human need for meaning and connection with nature. The Artificial Kingdom beautifully elucidates this aspect of culture as an attempt to recover what industrialization has destroyed.

The Artificial Kingdom

Celeste Olalquiaga is an independent scholar who has received Rockefeller and Guggenheim awards. She is the author of Megalopolis: Contemporary Cultural Sensibilities (Minnesota, 1992). She lives in Paris.

The Artificial Kingdom

Ingenious, fascinating, and melancholic.

Peter Woolen, London Review of Books

Olalquiaga finds an explanation of the modern-age question: why the subject of an artwork can seem more alive in representation than in life.

New York Times Book Review

Stunning. A potent, incantatory exploration into the emotional resonance of kitsch.

Art Papers

Peculiar and delightful. A playful yet intellectually rigorous examination of kitsch.

Kirkus Reviews