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

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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

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Overview

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.

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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.
Bookforum
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
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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.

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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
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