27 December 2009

One Good Schlock Deserves Another

The folks at Civil Warriors have labeled the following image "neo-Confederate schlock." -

Fair enough. That's a legitimate opinion, though I don't necessarily agree with it. But I suppose that would mean the following image could be labeled as "neo-Yankee schlock." -


And then we have the following ornament which, by the way, hangs on this year's White House Christmas tree. I suppose we could label it "neo-Communist schlock." -

And, finally, I suppose we could label this one, "neo-Socialist schlock." -

Update: You will notice that those who are such harsh critics of "Confederate Art" tend to overlook its counterpart. Hmmm . . . I wonder why?


BorderRuffian said...

Here's a load of Lincoln at Christmastime Schlock from the 1980s-


Pam Walter said...

Our history is what it is. We need to treasure it, learn from it, and never forget it,but we shouldn't ridicule it. www.satisfiedsole.com

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Pam - well said.

Jeffry Burden said...

As to the first item...if that's your taste, OK, but I also conclude that whatever it is, it ain't "art".

As to the second...it appears to be a reproduction of a period decorative piece. Not my cup of tea either, but at least it has the benefit of some historical pedigree.

As to the third...Mao with eye blush and rouge? I don't think that's exactly a tribute.

As to the fourth......again, there's no accounting for taste.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...


"Historical pedigree" - on a Christmas ornament? Ok, but no less "tasteful" than the Lee-Jackson depiction. As to the 3rd, in most administrations, I would not assume its a tribute either. But in this one, most definitely.

As to the 4th, just illustrating that "schlock" is in the eye of the beholder - or the selective critic.

Jeffry Burden said...


"Historical pedigree" - sure, in that it is (or at least appears to be) a detailed repro of something that existed 150 years ago. 1860s schlock is more interesting than
21st century schlock, because at the least it helps tell us how people thought (and decorated) long ago. Maybe "campy" is a better, less loaded word.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...


The Kunstler piece depicted an actual event. So it, too, is a depiction of something 150 years ago.

And the glorification of Lee and Jackson, as with Lincoln, is a historical fact. So your comment only seems to defend a slant against Southern heroes. What am I missing here?

Jeffry Burden said...


What are you missing? My point, it seems.

The Kunstler pice is a modern painting, done in Kunstler's slick contemporary style, based on a look back at a moment in history. It has as much appeal to me as a Kunstler painting of Lincoln speaking at Gettysburg would - which is to say, not at all. That's just my taste.

The ornament is a reproduction of something that existed at the historical time in question. It has an over-the-top goofiness, like a lot of 19th century political items. You may dismiss it as something that reeks of Lincoln worship, but at least it has that value of historical authenticity. If I had a CW-themed Christmas tree, it would work, and would be complemented nicely by a similar Lee piece (if one existed).

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

"Kunstler's slick contemporary style"

Your subjective opinion - as you say, just your taste.

"You may dismiss it as something that reeks of Lincoln worship"

Never said that - I just posted something that some might view as just as much "schlock" as the Lee-Jackson piece. Perhaps it is you who sees the ornament as "Lincoln worship."

The Kunstler depiction has as much value of "historical authenticity" as does the Lincoln ornament. Of course, that is my subjective opinion - which was my point. "Schlock" is in the eye of the beholder.

Jeffry Burden said...

"Lincoln worship"? Naw, I don't worship dead people. I also don't exalt them by hanging up commercial contemporary paintings showing them deep in prayer (or perhaps sleeping - Stonewall was known to catch a few winks when possible.) A battlefield sketch of Lee praying might be a different story. That would be much more interesting, as art and relic, IMHO.

As for the ornament - my wife would give me a strange look if I tried to hang that it on the tree. She might even consider it schlocky. :-)

Art is a tricky thing. As always, your mileage will vary.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...


I understand the Mrs. thing. My wife has all but banned any more CW art in my home, though I still have a few prints that need to be framed (she just doesn't know about them).

Thanks for your comments.