What Is Kitsch Architecture?
Some authors claim that the term kitsch has German origins and arose in artistic vocabulary around 1860 from the verb kitschen/verkitschen (to cheat, to sell something instead of something else). Others, such as Guimaraens & Cavalcanti (1979), affirm that the term comes from the English language, from the word sketch. In the second half of the 19th century, when American tourists wanted to buy a work of art at a cheap price, they asked for a sketch.
The controversies surrounding the term originate from its original meaning. However, despite its complexity, it can be understood that its emergence occurred at a time when industrial production tried to imitate craftsmanship, reinforcing the idea of reproducibility and democratizing culture and economy. In this sense, to reach the masses, the quality and philosophical depth of the objects are put aside, often distorting the aesthetics and meaning of their original model. The theorist Walter Benjamin – a great enthusiast of the theme – stated that this style aims to bring instant gratification to spectators without investing intellectually in it, like a comfortable and direct interpretation of superior forms of art and ornamentation. Therefore, through the absorption of typical elements of the wealthier classes, it is possible to understand kitsch also under the desire to achieve a higher socio-cultural status, linked to a complex process of elite renewal.