Real kitsch versus ironic kitsch

Presumed artist and her fantastic creation. Text by me.

This kitsch is so good it hurts. It helps that most people assume the girl brandishing the masterpiece is also the genius behind it. We might like it less if the creator were a disheveled man in his forties who knew what he was doing, and pissed himself laughing while making it. So, let’s just assume she really made it, for now*.

In the real world, outside of the cloistered museum simulacrum, with its own language and culture virtually indecipherable to the uninitiated, and often indistinguishable from mindless gibberish, I dare say this girl’s balloon Jesus packs more of a wallop than Paul McCarthy’s 80 foot balloon dog, or Jeff Koons‘s  aluminum casts of balloon dogs.

Paul McCarthy’s 80 foot Balloon Dog, which is somehow a comment on Jeff Koons’s balloon dog.
Jeff Koons, "Balloon Dog," chrome (2000)
Jeff Koons’s “Balloon Dog,” which is a comment on banality itself, and according to the artist, along with all his other work, has no hidden meanings.

The art of McCarthy or especially Koons is the highbrow conception of unbridled genius, while the presumed “craft” of the girl is painfully naive kitsch that does as much to undermine its subject as celebrate and dignify it.

And yet, in this contest between art-world-weary genius and unabashed naïveté, authenticity wins. After the Kool-Aid dissipates, and we start to question whether art history isn’t little more than an over-inflated, self-justifying fabrication upon reality, it’s just more interesting that some girl made an image of her savior out of balloons – crucified no less – than it is that corporate-minded contemporary artist Jeff Koons paid some people to fabricate balloon dogs in various colors out of chrome, and sold them for millions.

The art that is too lofty for the “common man” to fathom may turn out to be more superficial than the naive expression of his daughter, that isn’t even considered worthy of the name “art”.

Another way to put it is that unsophisticated innovations with balloon art outside of the art world are more captivating, radical and substantive (in terms of the relationship between the artist, balloon art and subject) than the cynical achievements of it’s own giants within the inner sanctum. A genuine, heartfelt balloon Jesus is just more intriguing than a mere balloon dog on a pedestal, with a spotlight on it, and a grandiose label. Also, it’s done rather well for what it is.

*I’ve done Google searches for who made the balloon Jesus in question, but turned up nothing. While I’d like to assume the girl made it herself, it’s easily possible that she merely had her picture taken with it and a balloon artist made it for her. Who knows what the story is behind it. If you fine out though, let me know.


Which isn’t to say I don’t do my own ironic works and laugh at them. But mine don’t sell at all.

Uh, here are a couple I’ve featured so far (click on them to link to the post in question):

Superman, by Eric Kuns
Sonic and Amy, by Eric Kuns