From her pet glass-globed hermit crab Rodney to the Victorian era's Crystal Palace, Celeste Olalquiaga offers a meditative look at the origins of kitsch and what kitsch tells us about the conflicts between the real and the artificial, tradition and modernity, nostalgia and melancholy. Olalquiaga artfully traces this form to the mid-1800s and establishes kitsch as a sensibility of loss-a yearning for objects to help recapture the past-and explains how these artifacts respond to a deep-seated human need for meaning and connection with nature. The Artificial Kingdom beautifully elucidates this aspect of culture as an attempt to recover what industrialization has destroyed. "Ingenious, fascinating, and melancholic." Peter Woolen, London Review of Books "Olalquiaga finds an explanation of the modern-age question: why the subject of an artwork can seem more alive in representation than in life." New York Times Book Review "Stunning. A potent, incantatory exploration into the emotional resonance of kitsch." Art Papers Celeste Olalquiaga is an independent scholar who has received Rockefeller and Guggenheim awards. She is the author of Megalopolis: Contemporary Cultural Sensibilities (Minnesota, 1992). She lives in Paris.