Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Most Wanted Paintings on the Web

The Most Wanted Painting in the USA
(dishwasher size)
Komar and Malamid - survey results

A project begun in 1995 by the Russian emigrant artist team Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid identified the most wanted and least wanted paintings on the web. See Komar & Melamid: The Most Wanted Paintings on the Web
This project, created by the dissident Russian artists Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid, attempts to discover what a true "people's" art would look like. Through a professional marketing firm, a survey was conducted to determine what Americans prefer in a painting; the results were used to create the painting America's Most Wanted. This project was expanded in both scope and audience through the Internet at Dia's website, allowing visitors to see the paintings based on completed polls of over a dozen countries
The project website describes its purpose as follows
Komar and Melamid's project poses relevant questions that an art-interested public, and society in general often fail to ask: What would art look like if it were to please the greatest number of people? Or conversely: What kind of culture is produced by a society that lives and governs itself by opinion polls?
This is a link to the Most Wanted and Least Wanted paintings by country. They're actually a composite based on the answers to the survey questions

This a link to the survey results - which analyse responses to each survey question by country. Click the x to see a pie chart of the percentage responses to the different options offered.

Here's what the majority of people who were surveyed in France, Germany, Holland, Italy, the USA and on the web said in response to the first set of questions.

(a small sample of)
The Survey Results
Please note that the surveys
differed slightly from country to country.
As a result, not every question
has a result for each country.
Favorite color?BlueBlueBlueBlueblueOther
2nd favorite color?GreenBlueBlueBlue/
Prefer modern or traditional art?trad.trad.
Preferred type of art?

Art to fit decor or art you like?
Prefer older or newer objects for home?
(even split)
Prefer wild animals or domestic?bothbothneitherneitherwild
Prefer outdoor or indoor scenes?outdoorbothoutdoorsoutdoorsoutdoorsboth
Preferred type of outdoor scenes?lakes
no pref.lakes,
Preferred season?fallno pref.springspringfallfall

It's interesting to see the extent to which there is agreement and divergence of views depending on the question asked and the country responding. I think we can clearly see that blue is a very popular colour.

For more background on the project you can read a couple of articles posted on the project website:
The web's LEAST wanted painting
(paper back book size)

Different critiques of the project - on its website - identified the following issues with the survey:
  • the survey is constructed so that responses are pre-determined by the artists (in terms of options provided)
  • I couldn't find my preference in the options identified
  • the survey was too long
  • the survey is too simplistic
  • the survey did not seem to address levels of enjoyment to be derived from art
  • the project is a clever parlor trick
The project was sponsored by the Chase Manhattan Bank. I'd be intrigued to see the report which proposed the sponorship of such a project!

I'd never heard about this project before and came across it while reading Landscape and Western Art (Oxford History of Art) by: Professor Malcolm Andrews for my Art of the Landscape project. It's a very good book!

I'm now wondering what the answers would be like if the same questions were asked 15 years later.

What do you think of the responses? How do you think they might vary if updated?

(Postcript: BTW folks - this survey says landscapes are popular! If you;re interested in developing your knowledge about and skills in landscape painting you might like to check out The Art of the Landscape Blog!)

The Art of the Landscape


  1. I wonder if any reference to painting size was done - or would that have any bearing to the painting?

  2. If you refer to the survey you will see that there was a question about the preferred size of painting

    What size of painting do you prefer?
    - size of a full wall?
    - full-size refridgerator?
    - dishwasher size?
    - television size?
    - magazine size?
    - paperback book size?

  3. Thanks for a great post, Katherine. Very information, even 15 years later.
    I've always loved doing landscapes, and may even add a few more lakes now if it means I can make a sale and buy more art supplies!


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