On Twitter 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.
The inspiration of this movement is Odd Nerdrum. A Norwegian painter (b.1944) who lived & taught in Sweden before become 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 Twitter feed on contemporary figurative art you can find her at Twitter.com/Uridev
Artwork: Dawn by Odd Nerdrum, 1989.