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The People’s Choice

  •  The People’s Choice
  •  The People’s Choice
  •  The People’s Choice
  •  The People’s Choice
  •  The People’s Choice
  •  The People’s Choice

Curated by

In 1994 the artists Komar & Melamid commissioned a public-research polling firm to conduct The People’s Choice, the first poll on artistic taste in the United States. Individuals were asked approximately 100 questions on a variety of subjects, ranging from their consumer tastes and recreational activities to their knowledge of famous artists, and their preference for angles, curves, brushstrokes, and particular colors, sizes, content, and style in painting. As Russian émigrés, the artists were intrigued by the idea of the consumer-research poll as an outgrowth of American democracy. At the same time, their interest in democracy led the artists to ask what a genuine people’s art would look like. What is a democratic and populist painting?

Using the data collected in this survey, Komar & Melamid painted a pair of canvases, The Most Wanted and The Most Unwanted, including in each painting what the respondents said they wanted or did not want in a painting. The survey and the resulting paintings come from the artists’ interests in examining people’s underlying attitudes about art and what art might look like, while also challenging the faith that our society puts in statistics.

The People’s Choice was exhibited outside the United States and evolved into a global analysis of what people, defined by their nationality, look for in art. This exhibition brought together for the first time Komar & Melamid’s Most Wanted and Most Unwanted paintings from fourteen countries (China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Iceland, Italy, Kenya, Portugal, Russia, Turkey, the Ukraine, and the United States). This exhibition presented these paintings, as well as the Web’s Most Wanted and Most Unwanted, and a reading room with statistical charts and other data along.





touring schedule

Museum of Art and History at the McPherson Center
Santa Cruz, CA, United States
January 1, 1970 - January 1, 1970

University Art Museum, State University of New York
Albany, NY, United States
January 1, 1970 - May 8, 2001

Centrum Sztuki
Warsaw, Poland
January 1, 1970 - March 6, 2001

Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University
Adrian, MI, United States
January 1, 1970 - January 1, 1970

Morris Museum of Art
Morristown, NJ, United States
December 11, 2000 - April 2, 2001

Bates College Museum of Art
Lewiston, ME, United States
August 9, 2000 - March 11, 2000

Tryon Center for the Arts
Charlotte, NC, United States
January 1, 1970 - January 1, 1970

Ringling Museum
Sarasota, FL, United States
January 1, 1970 - March 6, 2000

Minnesota Museum of American Art
St. Paul, MN, United States
December 11, 1999 - January 1, 1970

University of Missouri – Kansas City Art Gallery
Kansas City, MO, United States
March 9, 1999 - January 1, 1970

Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Santa Barbara, CA, United States
January 5, 1999 - January 1, 1970

Nevada Museum of Art
Reno, NV, United States
January 1, 1970 - January 1, 1970

Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Alberta College of Art and Design
Alberta, Canada
July 1, 1999 - June 2, 1999