Kitsch as Experience

Though austere modernism is presently in style with the erudite, kitsch in contemporary architecture is far from gone. In fact, architects like Jean Nouvel, whom I recently wrote about here, just keep going further and further with a new kind of kitsch — not the ersatz postmodern sort, but rather an overly showy, contemporary sort. It’s a bit difficult to describe, so here’s a photograph:

Ew. How old does Nouvel think we are? Image courtesy

I think that this goes too far. We are not six years old. Contemporary architecture is highly expressive, but in a project likes this, that bizarre plastic-y stuff is more about Nouvel’s ego gone out of control than anything else. The space is overdone in many different ways, and though it is true that a design like the one above is not necessarily bad in all settings, in the Musee du Quai Branly (Quai Branly Museum for non-Francophones unable to figure that out) it does NOT work. Elegance is not a thing of the past — a contemporary elegance must be found by balancing the drive to express a certain element of something with function and with taste. Yes, taste should play into architecture. Good contemporary architecture (see On Deconstructivism) is expressive, yet refined.


One thought on “Kitsch as Experience

  1. For some reason that photo makes me think of a McDonald’s playground.

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