Pretentious

DEFINITION

Claiming or demanding an unjustified position of distinction or merit. Displaying extravagance. Other synonyms: ostentatious, phony, snobbish, pompous, flashy, flaunting, florid, turgid, bombastic, swaggering, strutting, peacockish, grandiose, grandiloquent, highfalutin, orotund, and orchidaceous [an extravagant word itself!].However appropriate it may be, to criticize a person or thing for being pretentious is accusatory. Caution!: Most people are averse to ostracism. Unless an odious motive can be identified, one may be wise to employ less accusatory terms in describing a person or thing that is simply odd. Consider alternatives: e.g., strange, weird, peculiar, eccentric, or quirky. It is inappropriate to use even these without making (or at least preparing) a case for their use.The opposite of pretentious: modest, reserved, inconspicuous, plain, simple. For example, Shaker furniture is never pretentious.Quote: "Q.: 'Isn't calling yourselves the Conscience of the Art World a little pretentious?' Eva Hesse: 'Of course. Everyone knows artists are pretentious!' " Eva Hesse is the name of an American artist, born in Germany (1936-1970). The Eva Hesse quoted here is a different person: one of the Guerrilla Girls (American, contemporary, a group of feminist women, founded in 1985). The Guerrilla Girls always wear gorilla masks in public, but use names of dead women artists to differentiate themselves when speaking to the press. This quote is from an interview in Confessions of the Guerrilla Girls. Also see bad art, buckeye, ersatz, fake, gild the lily, kitsch, low art, mass media, flamboyant, baroque, rococo, sublime, and truth.

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