Odd Nerdrum

Favorite painter, hands down. Born in 1944, this Norwegian painter left his mark on Art History, an impressive feat for the times we live in now. Nerdrum had always had a devoted respect for the old masters-specifically Caravaggio and Rembrandt.  He felt that their beautiful and accurate depictions of the human figure were the epitome of art: timeless.

For those unfamiliar with the history of painting in the 20th century, painting was not as free and open to stylistic choices and content matter that we can see today.  As it turns out, with the creation of so many important movements in such a short time (Cubism, Modernism, Post-Modernism etc.) there was a huge stress on teaching and learning what was popular at that time. For figure painters, or really any artist drawn to depicting the human body in a naturalistic way, were looked down upon and had a rough time justifying their choice of subject to the majority. For Nerdrum, this torment was especially rough, many critics accusing him of being Kitsch.

In 1998, tired of the abuse, Nerdrum came out as a Kitsch painter, apologizing to everyone for ‘masquerading as an artist for so long.’ I would consider Odd Nerdrum as one with a flare for the dramatic side-what with his public disavowal of the Art World. Nevertheless, Nerdrum continued painting under his new proclaimed title as the leader of Kitsch.

I have a great respect for Odd Nerdrum, truly a master of painting in all definition, but I would go as far to say that taking on the role of Kitsch, was after a complete revamp in the definition of it. Considering Greenberg’s Avant-Garde and Kitsch (1939) Nerdrum’s new definition of Kitsch was nowhere close to Greenberg’s. Nerdrum redefined Kitsch as the depiction of beauty-eternal in the fact it could be admired for skill alone.

Theatrics aside, Nerdrum held true to his pledge to Kitsch and is still out there painting masterpieces everyday. From his separation with the Art world, a lot can be taken from his influential devotion to craftsmanship and skill, and a weary eye placed on the whims and trends of the time you live in.


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