Odd Nerdrum Lands in the Lap of LowBrow

November 3, 2014 9:18 PM

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In a jaded art world, painter Odd Nerdrum still manages to divide people along passionate lines. He has always been seen as a convoluted kitschy throwback by the Scandinavian cognoscenti, themselves desperate to be taken seriously in all things modern and contemporary. Others see him as a superior manifestation of the anti-modern refusal to abandon realism and old master techniques. The joke was on both sides of the argument when, in the early 1980s, his anti-modern embracing of Rembrandt's figuration was used in the service of major works depicting defecation and erections. He showed that the most retrograde anti-modernist could indeed be a leading light of post-modernism. He remains a hero to much of his native Norway, especially among those opposed to the elite institutions. His own reflections on his art have been to label it "Kitsch".

While the notion of what might be "Kitsch" in American art is up for considerable debate, the reflexive deference to anything from Europe in the high-end American art market made Nerdrum a less controversial presence Stateside. He has sold well in the United States, well enough to get himself into d...

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