Kitsch” is a German word meaning in bad taste
Kitsch Lights. In the arts, kitsch is used to describe art that is pretentious, vulgar, and displays a complete lack of sophistication. On the other hand, camp—the idea that something is so bad that it’s good— is an accurate description of 1950s American Kitsch.
Kitsch, though ever-present today, did not arise until relatively recently. According to Matei Calinescu, the word “kitsch” was first used in the 1860s and 1870s to refer to “cheap artistic stuff” (234). This “cheap artistic stuff” consisted of low-quality knickknacks to be sold to gullible tourists with the sole objective of commercial gain—think cheap paintings and garish miniatures.
Kitsch can also be called cheesiness or tackiness. Specialists have defined kitsch as a tasteless copy of an existing style or as the systematic display of bad taste or artistic deficiency. Garden gnomes are kitsch, just like cheap paintings for tourists, which are technically correct but express their “truths” too directly and too straightforwardly, often in the form of clichés.