On Bluesky and LinkedIn I curate a stream of contemporary figurative painters and the artists that have inspired us. Occasionally I have tagged artists as “Kitsch” on this feed. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about knick-knacks from grandmama’s cottage.

 #Kitsch painting is an international movement of classical painters founded upon a 24 September 1998 speech & the philosophy of #OddNerdrum. The Kitsch movement incorporates the techniques of the Old Masters with narrative, romanticism, and emotionally charged imagery. I’ve included a few examples in this post.

Kitsch art

The inspiration of this movement is Odd Nerdrum. A Norwegian painter (b.1944) who lived & taught in Sweden before becoming a citizen of Iceland. Although he has developed a very distinct look in this movement, it has echos ranging from a 17th century Rembrandt to the 19th century artist George Frederic Watts. Nerdrum’s work hints at all and yet none of these masters. It is from a world in-between.

Odd Nerdrum’s work is held in several public collections worldwide including the United States: the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, New York, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, California, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and in Norway at the National Gallery in Oslo. Odd Nerdrum is represented by the Forum Gallery, New York City.

Sadly, this creative treasure is currently in serious legal trouble. After receiving some bad technical advice from a conservator, three years of work literally melted on his finished canvas’. Each painting was replaced with a work of the same value which the government taxed for a second time.

The end result was a tax bill worth $2.6 million and Nerdrum was charged with tax evasion. After two appeals Nerdrum was sentenced to one year in prison as of April of 2016. The prison system does not allow any commerce in jail so Nerdrum will not be allowed to paint during this time.

Ironically, new evidence uncovered by investigative journalist, Anders Fjellberg, proved that Nerdrum not only paid his taxes, but actually paid more than he should. When reading the details of the case one can not help but wonder if, once again in history, an artist is being used to make a point.

To follow Uriél Dana’s Bluesky feed on contemporary figurative art you can find her at uridev.urieldana.com

Artwork: Dawn by Odd Nerdrum, 1989.

Uriél Danā on a film shoot with Walter Greenbird

Uriél Danā has been a Professional Fine Artist 38 years specializing in oils, gouache, and bronze, and is a Contemporary Figurative Art Curator.

She is an Air Force Veteran and former USIA (State Department) Ambassador to the Arts. She is a graduate of the 2016 Writers Guild of the West (Los Angeles, CA) Veterans Writing Project.

A Contributing Editor on the Arts, Buddhism and Culture, Uriél contributes regularly to online and print magazines in addition to international journals. She has won many awards for her poetry and has been included in two anthologies. For National Poetry Month, April 2020, her poems were  featured on San Francisco’s public radio station, KPFA.

A resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, Uri has lived on three continents and visited 44 countries.