Publication date 3/1/2001
8 x 8.75 inches (20.3 x 22.2 cm), Paperback
144 pages, 185 color illustrations, 15 b/w illustrations
Carton qty: 24;
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What is the fascination of paint by numbers? Is it the intoxicating and compulsive act of filling in small pools of color? Or the easy thrill of creating your own impressionist masterpiece? Or a fond nostalgic yearning for a craze that cut across national boundaries and age groups? Invented in 1951 by Dan Robbins--based on an idea used by Leonardo da Vinci to teach painting--the paint-by-number craze reached its zenith in the 1950s but continues even today as paints and kits are avidly collected, exhibited in galleries, and traded on eBay. In Paint By Number, author Larry Bird takes us on an unbeliev-able journey where art meets kitsch and popular and high cultures collide in a collage of home economics, leisure time fun, and art education. Bird revisits the hobby from the vantage point of the artists and entrepreneurs who created the popular paint kits, the critics who reviled them, and the consumers who enthusiastically filled them in and hung them in their homes. Paint By Number includes over 200 examples of paint-by-number ephemera and two pull-out paintings ready to be filled in!
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". . . where art meets kitsch in a head-on collision of the [1950s] contradictory aspirations - creativity and security."
Christian Science Monitor:
"an engaging, thought-provoking, and visually appealing chronicle of the paint-by-numbers phenomenon."
". . . excellent chronicle."
". . . [a] new book chronicling the 50s craze."
"This entertaining book. . . recounts fascinating examples of the fad's place in American culture. . ."
". . . the intelligentsia loved to mock paint-by-numbers kits when they first appeared in the 1950s. Today they are avidly collected and exhibited in galleries. Now theres a book - the full blown pop culture analysis Paint by Number."
Reading just for fun, The Courier-Gazette (ME):
"I thank [William Bird] for this book, and recommend it as a charming and pleasant walk down yesterstreet."
"Like most books from Princeton Architectural, it is, graphically, a piece of genius an adept mix of period photos and ephemera and trenchant analysis form author and veteran Smithsonian Institution curator William L. Bird Jr."
". . . [an] engaging and colorful bit of garage-sale cultural anthropology."
"Birds excellent chronicle accompanies an exhibit at the Smithsonians National Museum of American History..."
"A great read, a fun resource and a sure way to turn on the nostalgia. (If you get carried away, you can order the spin-off kit!)"
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