As a cultural object, there’s a lot of about the garden gnome that deserves unpacking. Issues of ideology, class, race, gender, superstition, consumerism and aesthetics are all tightly tucked under that pointy red cap. To understand how these issues come into play, we first need to understand how it has become popular– even polemic— to decorate suburban yards with colorful and diminutive old men.
While clay figures of dwarfs were sold by the German company Baehr and Maresch as early as 1841, a craftsman named Philipp Griebel is generally credited with popularizing the bearded fellows we’re familiar with today. Continue reading “A Fascination with Gnomes (Introduction)”