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Paint by Number: The How-To Craze that Swept the Nation

William L. Bird, Jr.

21 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1568982828 / ISBN 13: 9781568982823
Published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2001
Used Condition: Very Good Soft cover
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Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 2001. Softcover, 135 pp. 1st edition, 1st printing (full number line). A hobby that swept the nation. A look at those who created paint-by-number kits, the fans who bought them and created a craze, and how the critics just hated all of it. Also looks at the impact on Pop and contemporary art. Very good. Bookseller Inventory # ABE-16833599058

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Paint by Number: The How-To Craze that Swept...

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Soft cover

Book Condition:Very Good

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


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 unbelievable 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!


A mass culture obsessed with suburbia, leisure, and consumerism that sought access to high culture: that was 1950s America. Naturally, it was obsessed with paint by number, where all of these cross. A companion to an exhibition at the Smithsonian, Paint by Number follows the craze from its start to Andy Warhol's famous appropriation of the method in his "Do It Yourself" series. Paint by number pitted the creative against the mechanical, and deeply questioned art by giving everyone a paintbrush. This is a scholarly book and, at the same time, a comfortable read (as are most Princeton Architectural Press books), full of paintings, photographs, and ephemera such as advertisements and package designs, which alone stand as proof that one product can retell a critical part of the cultural history of America. It is a fantastic book for anyone interested in the intersection between art and culture in this fast-changing era. --Juliette Cezzar

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