Just Above the Mantelpiece: Mass-Market Masterpieces

ISBN 10: 1861541945 / ISBN 13: 9781861541949
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Synopsis: Celebragtes the mass-produced art that began to decorate thousands of homes from the late 1950s. Now highly collectable, this art has found new acclaim in the world of fashion, fine art and photography.

Review: If you've ever been curious about the kitschy paintings you've found at a thrift store, then check out Just Above the Mantelpiece; it features the most famous of pop-culture mass-market pieces, from big-eyed children and pets to voluptuous half-naked women and horses. Author Wayne Hemingway makes a heartfelt case for the cultural importance of these paintings. Using the example of his own grandmother, a collector, Hemingway discusses the significance of mass-market art for the middle and working classes and compares it to the rest of the art market.

According to Hemingway, Vladimir Tretchikoff, famous for his paintings and posters of mysterious ethnic women, "achieved everything that Andy Warhol stated he wanted to do but could never achieve because of his coolness." A huge phenomenon for the past 40 years has been portraits of crying and big-eyed children. The most famous creator of these iconic images is San Francisco artist Margaret Keane. Her exaggerated style became known as "Keane-eyes." Hemingway traces the influence of Keane through movies, fashion, and famous collectors, noting that movie director Tim Burton commissioned Keane to paint a portrait of his girlfriend Lisa Marie. This book is a personal and focused look at the 1960s generation of mass-market art. It includes pullout posters of some of the famous paintings and features a fuzzy mock wallpaper cover. --J.P. Cohen

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