Painting by Numbers: Komar and Melamid's Scientific Guide to Art / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 92%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (19) from $1.99   
  • New (3) from $33.00   
  • Used (16) from $1.99   
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any coupons and promotions
Seller since 2007

Feedback rating:



New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

This is the H-U-G-E OVERSIZED (it barely fit in my scanner!) softcover stated California First Edition from 1999. Both the cover and the book are in excellent condition. There ... are no rips, tears, markings, etc.---and the pages and binding are tight (see photo). **Note: All books listed as FIRST EDITIONS are stated by the publisher in words or number lines--or--only stated editions that include only the publisher and publication date. Check my feedback to see that I sell exactly as I describe. Read more Show Less


Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:


Condition: New

Ships from: Chicago, IL

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:


Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Sort by


What is art? Who defines it? And why is high art so remote from most people? With the same puckish humor and critical genius that made them the bêtes noires of Soviet cultural commissars, the Russian émigré art team of Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid takes on not only the billion-dollar American art industry but also capitalism's most venerated tool: the market research poll. With the help of The Nation
Institute and a professional polling team, they discovered that what Americans want in art, regardless of class, race, or gender, is exactly what the art world disdains—a tranquil, realistic, blue landscape.

Painting by Numbers includes the original questionnaire and reproductions of the "most wanted" and "most unwanted" paintings the artists made based on American survey results and on polls they commissioned in ten other countries—including Russia, China, France, and Kenya—representing almost one-third of the world's population. Essays by JoAnn Wypijewski and noted art critic Arthur Danto, as well as an interview with the artists, explore the crisis of modernism, the cultural meaning of polls, the significance of landscape, and the commodificaion of just about everything.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Polish American Journal
Do you want to be a successful artist? Learn what the public wants and will buy in this documentation....The book is both comic and serious.
From the opening page, which offers 'America's most wanted' painting...the reader becomes a participant in a radical happening, 90s-style, complete with polls, global travel, and practical jokes.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1993, Komar and Melamid, two Russian migr artists, began a comprehensive survey of Americans to determine what they wanted to see in art. Eventually, their polls encompassed close to two billion subjects in ten countries. What they found is that the public wants to see what the art world does not: a landscape in a realistic style (in blue, please, as this is the favorite color of 44% of respondents). And it needs simply be prettyonly 19% felt that painting should serve a higher purpose such as challenging pre-conceived notions. Using these responses, Komar and Melamid then painted 48 paintings that represented what was "wanted" and "unwanted" in various countries. With wry good humor, they stuck very close to the aggregate statistical script, so, for example, one of America's "wanted" paintings includes both autumn foliage and spring foliage, in precise reflection of the statistical response. Although the text contains too much of Komar and Melamid's rambling conversation, the book, overall, has an invigorating feel. Nothing is sacred, no one is left out and no "art" eventeven the manufacturer of a blue M&Mgoes unremarked. Most enjoyable are the remarks on color by Wypijewski, The Nation's managing editor, whose meditation comes alive with solid writing and references to thinkers such as Goethe and Kandinsky. But the woman whose comment places the entire project in perspective is the receptionist in Ithaca, N.Y., who, when asked by Melamid whether she'd like to know an artist, replied, "Well, would you like to know about what I do in my life?" Sharp, irreverent remarks like that give this book a broad appeal. (Nov.)
Polish American Journal
Do you want to be a successful artist? Learn what the public wants and will buy in this documentation....The book is both comic and serious.
Florence Waszkelewicz Clowes
Do you want to be a financially successful artist? Learn what the public wants and will buy in this documentation. This quirky book is the result of numerous polls in ten countries as well as American surveys.
Polish American Journal
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520218611
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 11/12/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 205
  • Product dimensions: 10.75 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

JoAnn Wypijewski is a senior editor at The Nation. Her work has appeared there as well as in Harper's, Il Manifesto, and other publications. Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, pioneers of Soviet conceptual art, were expelled from official Soviet artists' associations and subsequently emigrated to the United States in 1978.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

What Do People Want? 2
America's Most Unwanted 6
America's Most Wanted 7
Blue Landscapes, Bewitching Numbers, and the Double Life of Jokes: An Interview with Komar and Melamid 8
Master Questionnaire and Poll Results 14
Vox Pop: Notes on a Public Conversation 52
Blue World Order?: A Post Hoc Statistical Analysis of Art Preference Surveys from Ten Countries 89
The Paintings 104
Can It Be the "Most Wanted Painting" Even if Nobody Wants It? 124
App Cross Tabulations of the American Poll 141
Acknowledgments 198
Art Credits 201
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)