Below are letters to Komar & Melamid received in the first two years of the project.

Interesting project, but the survey is constructed so that you will always get the answers that support whatever thesis you have already formultated. There is no room for points of view you have not already formulated. Remember Wittgenstein "I do not know what I do not know" Until that is taken into consideration, the survey will be nothing but a clever parlor trick. That may be your intention.
John Maxwell Hobbs

K&M: Actually the survey results from our initial poll (USA) contradicted our original thesis, which was that the US population would be diverse in its taste. For an indepth discussion, please see the reprint from The Nation.
most wanted paintings survey
Dear K & M: Blaise Tobia (my husband) and I are friends with Elliott Barowitz; we used to all work on "Art&Artists" magazine together. We were walking down the block to DIA on Saturday and saw your billboard with the WWW address. I enjoyed participating in your survey, but as another writer noted, you have certainly framed the questions in a way that reflects what you hope to get in reply. I often found myself in a position of not seeing my preference listed among the multiple choice answers. For example, I really prefer politically oriented art (sometimes this could involve a contemporary figure OR an historical OR even a religious one). There was no way to indicate such preferences. All in all, though, I really get a kick out of your work. At some point, we hope to get to the church in Jersey to see the painting you did for them. Ciao.
Virginia Maksymowicz

M.W. Painting

the survey is too long.......... why not match EACH survey entry to your list of paintings then each survey response would reflect the user's individual preference for art AND the response would be real-time(or close to it) Bob Bennett
robert bennett

K&M: One thing we would like to explain is that we commissioned the professional marketing firm to write and conduct the survey. They did this as "objectively" as they could, in a method similar to ways they conduct surveys on other economic and political issues. The results they gave us we used as a tool, the same we use a brush. Any complaints about the tool, please refer to the manufacturers.

I like the idea of conducting a survey, but your survey is to simplistic. It is aimed at arriving at a conclusion about a certain predetermined audience.
John Carroll

K&M: Please look to your left.

The trick to sending you e-mail is to use Netscape! Well, I'd really like to find out what you were trying to get at with this survey. I mean, I'm in advertising so I'm used to a fairly intense level of bullshit, so I wonder if you were trying to draw a line between the two points? art and bullshit? or to show that the line can't be drawn? Or am I completely off base (this happens often)? I love paintings and pictures and sculptures and all objects that scream object at me so that the walls between me an objects break down. Sometimes the objects aren't "art" but are great objects anyway. Sometimes they are whole people! I don't know what it was about your survey but it didn't seem to address that level of enjoyment. Do you miss this level? Is New York just too cool for it? By the way, my late husband (who was a painter) saw the two of you once and had a great experience. So I am really curious about what you are up to. Write back if you feel like it. Good luck.
Vicky Else

K&M: Thank you for your comments. New York isn't too cool for it, but our art is more about ideas than enjoyment.

Survey Comparisons

First off, the project is way groovy. Second, why did you ask the various groups different questions? Wouldn't it make more sense to ask both Americans and Russians about both Rodchenko and Warhol? That way, you get a more accurate idea of what people want in the larger sense, not just in terms of what culture they're already familiar with. Although the surveys and ther resultant paintings are interesting, they could have been more effective if they were internally consistent.

Also, what were the elephant's respond to the survey? Keep up the work.
Mike Kuniavsky

K&M: Actually, the elephant was in the minority in that she favored a very abstract style.


Dear K&M: I can't help but feel that you are buying ito the very mentality that you intend to satirize.
Ronald V. Clayton

K&M: We didn't intend to satirize. And it's funny not because we intend to make fun.

what art we want

I like the pages. I remember reading about your project months ago in my local rag (The AZ Repulsive), but don't remember that they ran the picture resulting from the poll. I tend to agree with the letterwriter who called your project a clever parlor trick. Very entertaining, but did you think about some of the ramifications of your questions? For instance, asking people what color painting they prefer doesn't allow for the difference between like and respect. I like the Impressionists paintings, they always make me smile, but I revere the Old Masters because they make me think. And asking how much money people will spend or what they'd buy for their homes doesn't address what they prefer to see in museums. Most of us can't, after all, afford to have a 12th century altarpiece or a Modigliani in our homes, no matter how much we love them and pant after them in the museums. I also noticed that the results of the web poll don't seem to match the painting that is said to show the results. It would be an awesome feat, as well as a cool web site, if you could some how create a "live" painting that really reflected the results of the online poll. Colors, objects, backgrounds could change if the results warranted it. Good luck. Thanks. Susan Allred
Susan Allred

K&M: The painting based on the web survey hasn't been done yet. We will do it next year. Your idea for "live" paintings is really good. Do you want to write the program?
A good laugh, why not?

Artists Komar & Melamid It could be very a very interesting project, but with that questionaire... it is only bullshit! It is oversimplistic. It looks made by the manager of a third rate supermarket trying to understand the taste of his suburban customers so he could get the right stock of merchandises ready for the shoping season. I think you are better artists than this. OK, its only a game. Why not having a good laugh from time to time? Have fun! N.B. (in Macao)
Nuno Barreto

K & M: American grocery stores are the best grocery stores in the world, which you can't say about American art.
loaded questions

Your idea for the Most Wanted Paintings is the best use of the internet for the purpose of exploring the very nature of art that I've seen so far...thank you for your excellent and ongoing contribution. My comment is about some of the questions in the survey: for instance, when you ask do we prefer wild animals to domestic animals you are assuming that animals are going to be a factor in the equation 100% of the time. This troubles me, and of course raises serious questions about the nature of statistical analysis of taste and preference. I'm sure that you are aware of how stating certain types of questions in a certain manner can distort the end product of a survey by weighting the answers in a subtle but powerful direction - a direction prefigured (perhaps unconsciously) by the designer of the survey. Just wondering if you had given any of this thought in your original thesis and in your subsequent analysis of your data.
Stuart Cameron Vance

K&M: Yes, we did give it much thought, and decided to let professionals in the field of market research surveys create the questionaire. If the majority of the results are in favor of a modern/abstract style, then animals would of course not be included. Obviously if people overwhelmingly prefer a traditional style, then the results of the questions regarding abstract painting become less important. We interpret the overall results, not each question's singular results.

As an artist, I found your survey both enlightening and repulsive. Like you, I am also surprised at the lack of knowledge that the average person has in regard to art. The question regarding whether art should teach a lesson or reveal a new insight was the best one, even though the responses show how dismal this country's view of art is. I do take issue at the fact that you claim no (or very little) responsibility for the question's content. Your names are on this thing, please send away for spines. Questions like 'do you prefer children, livestock, or small fetal pigs in your paintings' assume that one likes any at all. I need to tell you that I hate representational painting for the purpose of representation. That seems to be what this country wants and likes, however pathetic it may be. Please have an artist collaborate with your corporate survey clones next time and use this space productively.
Sterling Vernon

Open your choices

I've enjoyed your marketing approach to art. It was fun taking the survey, but try opening your choices more. You force the choices, i.e., what if I don't like paintings of animals at all? You leave me no option to tell you this. Or the one that really bothered me was the query about brushstroke - it depends on the painting, sometimes I like facture, sometimes I like the "licked" surface. Keep up the good work.
Susan R. Petty

K&M: But if you had to look at a painting of an animal, would you prefer domestic or wild? The questions are all hypothetical, and if an overwhelming majority likes abstract painting, then we won't have animals at all. Thanks.
Great Survey!

I really enjoyed taking the survey and also seeing the results from the previous surveys. I found the results both interesting and informative, and, based on my survey, I could tell where certain elements in the paintings were derived from. It was truly amazing to see how you could take the elements that a particular country wanted and combine them into a painting. It is also intriguing to see how close different the favorites of the different countries were. One thing is obvoius: the world does not like modern art... A great project and a great web site!
Matt Winters

K&M: Thanks!

dear komar and melamid, maybe i missed something in your explanation of the project -which i find highly amusing and interesting, but there is one thing i don,t understand. This: why is it that the subject (people, deers in water, etc) of your 'peoples-paintings' is the same? Isn't it very probable that different people would have different preferences in their subjects? For instance: some spaniards would like to see a painting of a bullfight but a dutchman wouldn't even imagine such a painting. i hope you understand my point, please answer/wolter.
wolter van proosdij

K&M: Thank you for your comments. Interpreting the poll is always difficult, and this is our intepretation. We invite you to make your own interpretation based on the survey results available here at this site.
In this case, the tool *is* the piece.

In one of your responses to someone criticizing the content of the survey (criticisms with which I entirely agree) you said, to paraphrase, that you used the survey as a tool, just as a brush is a tool, and if we didn't like the tool we should complain to the manufacturer, not you. This is a ridiculous position. For an artist to disclaim responsibility for defects in his or her work because they chose the wrong tool which which to accomplish it is disingenuous, at best. Especially in a case such as this, where the tool *is* the piece. Had you made it clear that the point of the piece was to criticize exactly the sort of "objective" market-research propaganda machinery of which your survey is such an excellent example, then your piece might have had some merit. However, you specifically disavow any such intent and continue to present the survey as if it were, in fact, of any worth at all in gathering meaningful data on people's taste in art.
Kirk Rader

K & M: Very few things are one-sided. The painting is meant to bring up many issues that need to be addressed, as well as to make new and positive discoveries. Of course market-research isn't objective, but it is a fact of life.
Most and Least Wanted Paintings

I had fun taking the survey, but had even more fun in looking at the exaemplars and discovering that the one I liked the most was France's Least Wanted. Would that I had but a clue what that says about me. Congratulations on a good site.
James Pray

K & M: Thanks!
Most wanted paintings

Come on guys... you can do better than that... usa.. France... Turky oops Turkey Variations on a theme :-) I do like the sky though.

Why are they the same?

Why are they the same?
Ryan Doutt

K&M: because the responses from around the world have been so surprisingly similar, i.e. every country's favorite color so far has been blue and everyone prefers outdoor scenes.

hi folks your survey needs work. for example some questions needs a "neither" category as well as "both". some questions need a skip: if answer is "no" the next question still asks questions about that issue. carol williams survey research unit university of north carolina at chapel hill north carolina
carol williams

Professional Marketing Specialists?

Dear Kolmar and Melmid: Is a rooster a professional sunbringerupper?
Paul Freedman

K&M: If the sun doesn't come up, the rooster will be held responsible.
Alternative Museum's Counter-Exhibit

I just came from the "Made to Order: America's Most Wanted Paintings" exhibit at the Alternative Museum. I thought it was great! I just wonder if you have any response to it or feelings about it? - Keith
Keith Gardner

K&M: We think it is great that our poll is open to interpretation by other artists.
that stupid survey

I'm sorry I couldn't complete your survey but the answers you supplied weren't extensive enough for me to answer honestly. I really love your paintings.

K&M: Thank you. Does any survey cover all possibilities?
Most unwanted bank.

Are you sure these are not the most wanted and unwanted paintings of Chase Manhattan Bank? Are they scouting out new investments? Are you their new investment? Gen Bah
Lan Gen Bah

K &M: We certainly hope so.
your page

This is quite a good direct extension of your survey piece, yet it uses the web in a rather straight-forward fashion. Have you guys been thinking of a work specifically for the web? I imagine it would be quite special. DAR
David Ross

K&M: Yes. Thanks David.
The Horror

I think your project is wonderfully hilarious and horrifying. The "Most Wanted" paintings are clearly the apotheosis of bad taste. What are we to make of this? Do we laugh? Do we cry? BTW, I live right around the corner from your famous URL billboard that was up for so long. It was interesting to see the neighborhood become "Webbified"... Rob Mounsey Flying Monkey Inc., NYC
Rob Mounsey

K&M: Thank you.

I enjoyed your concept, but became frustrated to the point of desiring to escape (trapped!..a nifty trick!) during the Q&A. I was grateful for the all inclusive answers (Do you like people or animals?>>both), and was crazed when you asked me to decide between newer objects & older objects, or what ever other choice you forced me into after graciously allowing me to state that I choose art because I like it. After taking your quiz I question your results as well - the number of leading questions regarding realistic paintings far outweigh those aimed at deciphering an individuals taste in abstract or any other type of art. For all this grumbling though I find your intentions engaging, the results amusing & am now thinking a bit more about the role of the artist as creator. I'll come back again to check the trends & may even plunge into the quiz again to see if it still makes me want to scream, & if it does to balance my previous entry by choosing the other options. What would the statisticians say? In any case, thank you for you efforts, they have made me thoughtful.
Kate Owen

K & M: That's the whole idea - to make people think about these questions and decisions. As for you your concern about the constraints of the survey, we've tried to address that in the responses to letters above.
Could the both of you come speak at my Graduate Prgrm.?

Dear K and M: I like the survey idea. The best part is actually answering the questions and figuring out why I have the answers that I do. The boring part is reading the over all results, because it such a random exercise that statistics never make sense or are valid in anyway. I was surpised that to date, Warhol wasn't "Most Favorable" but just "Favorable". On to my question...I'm a graduate student in the art program at Univ. of Calif at Davis. could you come speak to us and show some slides and partake in interesting conversation with us? If you're not busy, say yes. Sincerely, Carter.

K & M: Absolutely. Please contact our studio in New York City.

Hallo Vitaly, hallo Alex, I've just found your page in the e-mail at Internet during an introduction to the internet for arthistorians at Aachen university! How's things? I'm doing fine. I don't have an e-mail address, but I'm gonna look into your files at univ. from time to time now. Hope this is a success! Lots of love, Astrid
Astrid Mania

K & M: Hi Astrid! Great to hear from you. Talk to you soon.
lazy eye?

Congratulations (an odd word). I got the postcard after reading the Nation, and wondered about that vaguely biomorphic blob in the water far to the left of the miraculous deer. Was it a tree stump, or animate? Then I saw the painting itself deep in Orange County, and concluded that I was looking at a yawning hippo head of the sort one sees on the Disneyland Jungle Cruise (whose guides sound uncannily like your press-article selves). My conclusion must surely be correct, since a) it has not been mentioned anywhere in the supporting hoopla, and b) its very presence - combined with the fact of a) - is perfectly consistent with the whole enterprise: to wit, that people's art should be looked at, and not seen. Please clarify. Am I indeed seeing, or merely projecting? Thanks in advance... P.S. Is "Melamid" pronounced identically to the tough durable plastic product used for kitchen counters?
richard gleaves

K & M: You are seeing and projecting. We don't know what kind of kitchen material you speak of. Melamid sounds like Velamint, just change the letters.
America's Most Wanted

I think it is interesting that these images are so photographic in nature. Not only are we a world that is directed by the media, but we are all becoming one huge instant camera. I think that it is curious that there are no multiple exposed images in these work. Maybe in the year 2000.
Philip Friedman

K&M: Maybe. But that wouldn't make for a very traditional painting, which is people have preferred.
The Survey

Gentlemen: I've been lookiong for some way to kill 45 minutes of lecture time with my painting students at the Putney School here in Vermont. I think we all prefer Jesus to JFK and wonder why there is no category for Cobalt violet. Glad to hear you are still alive and well. I helped hang an exhibition of your work at Mass College of Art in Boston in 1984. Haven't really given you much thought since then. If you would be interesterd in a weekend getaway come up for coffee and a modest perdiem (a tin can of maple syrup) Thanks for the Internet introduction to the Putney School. How's Business?
Eric Aho

K&M: Business is great. Good to hear from you. Anytime you're in New York City give us a call.

Hello there - Firstly, first I would like to say that it is a wonderful idea you have and I very much enjoyed the interaction that I had. Art as consenus is a hideous idea, which I find makes it so wonderful. I dread the idea of this questionaire having any relevance to an artists work - so I believe you have succeeded marvelously. I would like to however say one thing , I thought that you could have given more options or a place to write in such as you did in the color area. I found that I didn't have enough of a choice amongst the radio button selection. Some of the questions I answered with irrelevance because I didn't have a wider selection. I felt that perhaps you have under-estimated the crowd a little. Thanks for the web page - much enjoyed. S. Macrae
S. Macrae

K&M: Thanks for your letter.
Alternative Museum's "Made to Order" show

What did you think of the Alternative Museum's invitation to artists to respond visually to your survey? I was in that show which ended this week and was curious about your response. Did you see it?
grace gp

K&M: We think it was great that other artists WANTED to interpret the poll.
Bus ride through the Lincoln Tunnel to JC Church

I have a website at You can reply e-mail from that site. I will never forget the bus ride I took to Jersey City to the catholic church and your painting. The site of Mr. Melamid speaking in the tunnel with the lights flashing by was just as memorable. And so is this work. !
Philip Friedman

K&M: Thank you!
Lack of post and post-post modern

The proect is good- quite womderful actually- but i really found myself wishing for more dividsions in the period question- which do you like--modern or historical--kinda limitieng-- modern reads as modernist--- as oppposed to conteporary or post modern or post-post or whatever----- thanks- for a site that is truly a site-- more fun that it is out here than it would be at the DIA.
D Martin
DAJMARTI @ Iniana. edu.


K & M, I think that your project here is a great idea, but I also feel that the survey is worded in such a way as to make the results meaningless. The questions are unrealistic in the context of making art. How can one decide between such concepts as hard edged vs. smooth curves without context. If I'm looking at a painting by Diebenkorn I might say I like paintings with hard geometric shapes, darker colors, and well defined demarcations between color. If I then look at a Klee or Morandi well then I would have to say I like soft curves and blended color. This argument can be made for a number of your either/or questions. I do however like the idea of a survey of a large group of people and making works based on consensus. But I think that the questions should be a bit more serious and thought out. (Unless of course the whole thing is meant to be taken as a joke, in that case Ha,Ha.) I can't help feeling that the questions are designed to make the results ridiculous. I also noticed that the majority of the respondents are people who go the museums more than twice a year and have university degrees. That coupled with the fact that the survey is being conducted through the dia web site leads me to think that this is not a representative sample of the population at large (which seems to me to be the intention), but rather a survey of people somewhat more familiar with art in general. All that said I hope you continue to do more interesting things on the web, it's more than I'm doing. Thanks Mark Rubin
Mark Rubin


Thanks for your survey I know it is impossible to ask as many questions that everyone thinks are central to surveys such as this, however your survey ends with basic personal information, and if I remember correctly, the last question is gender, which I didn't answer, and after having seen the results of your survey with the low percentage of women completing this survey, I wish I had bothered to answer. I was anticipating another page of personal information to follow, as once given then gender question, I immediately anticipate a (related) following question and that is sexuality. This for me raises two important issues interms of who is actively using the internet, and what is considered "crucial" information in market surveys (age, and income).However I do think your project is quite a poingant critique of the failure of market research and statistics. I also wonder how the people at the Chase Manhattan Bank either deal with the irony implicit in this piece, or have overlooked this in the name of corporate philanthropy.

K&M: Long live corporate philanthrophy. Chase has been a big supporter of art. God Bless them.
Please join us for dinner

Dear Mr.'s Komar & Melamid, You are cordially invited to have dinner with us. We will be wearing our blue outfits. We will meet you in a springtime forest and be dining with a group of leisurely, partially-clad people (who will be taming wild animals.) Don't worry--no one will be larger than a dishwasher. Thanks for the fun survey! Sincerly, Beth Hahn & John Armstrong.
Beth Hahn

K & M: Thanks for a fun letter. Hopefully we will see each other in your ideal setting.
Alternative Museum's Most Wanted Show

My painting/contribution to the Alternative Museum's Most Wanted Show disappeared right before the show opened. Does that mean that this piece is "America's Most Wanted Painting????? In lieu of the original work which was gone we put up a photographic reproduction. Looked like new! Is this post-modernism or not???
grace graupe-pillard

K&M: Congratulations! And thanks for the story.

Perhaps I am overlooking it but I do not see the artists of the paintings identified. Was that information ommited intentionally? Thanks
Catherine Hays

K&M: IT WAS US. Yours Sincerely, Komar & Melamid
The Most Wanted? Paintings

A survey which asks which colors, what subject, what animals, what brushstroke, etc. independent of how each of these elements affect one another really is quite pointless. I do not select a painting because it contains my favorite color. It is the overall composition, not to mention, the style of the artist, which affects my preferences. I cannot say I always prefer to see red in paintings because it is my favorite color. There are problems with a survey which tries to isolate elements which are only significant as a whole composition. In addition, there is a problem with asking someone if they prefer paintings which look more like photographs. As photographers you should know that not all photographs are realistic!! I think this survey would have been more effective and consequently more useful and interesting if the two of you had not tried to simplify something which cannot be analyzed by simply asking what our favorite things are.
T. Maruyama

Mo' Media Savvy

After having read through the many letters here displayed, I realize that my comments which tend toward those expressed by other respondants, i.e. that it is the poll that's bullshit, not the "public opinions" that it purports to describe would only be reiterative. One small addition to this discussion: marketing firms (I should know, I once worked for one) and the Faith Popcorns of the world are far less intelligent and "media savvy" than many, if not most, of the "public" being polled. Marketing firms and media in general don't reflect opinions, they create we-the-public become more and more tuned in to their tactics (transparent and laughable rhetorics!) they attempt to become more devious. I believe that most people "read" these messages loud and clear. The public is amazingly astute, if given the chance to engage in an honest discussion rather than a survey or a "guided" focus group. The only people who should waste their money on so-called professional and objective (ain't no such thang!) surveys are people who desperately desire to see their pre-existing notions validated...people like Newt and Pat. I've been an admirer of you work for lo, these many years...even though I largely despise painting and think it ridiculously passT ...which makes me wonder wonder why all they questions in the survey were oriented toward painting. Are you guys in desperated need of some validation? Thank you, and you make keep all your animals and landscapes, both wild and domestic. Rhondda Francis
Rhondda Francis

Good book...

No need to publish this - just saying thanks for responding to my last letter. I still can't get over the idea of world-class artists running an advice column on the net. Anyways, have you read or heard of the book "Influence" by Robert Cialdini? It's a good book, and relevant to the project at hand. Yr. loyal fan, RG

Most Wanted Paintings

I feel that your Most Wanted Paintings questionnaire should give more choices of possible answers.
Susan Bondor

Your most wanted
Hello mister Komar and Melamid,
Nice work you have done so far. If you're planning to do a dutch most wanted don't forget to put a gnome in it. Our great gnome and wildlife artist Rien Poortvliet died last week. Well known for his book for the whole family ' Gnomes and how they live " The idea to paint what people want you to paint is ok, but of course always this way, because only the artists which work like that become famous in the end (centuries) Friendly greetings from Holland. Gerard Druiven Groningen Holland (Druiven Art-Painters)
Gerard Druiven

K&M - We certainly hope we become famous. Gnomes are a great idea. Let's hope the people in Holland have a chance to be polled. Sorry to hear of Holland's great loss. FYI, the Kunsthalle in Rotterdam is planning an exhibition of Holland's Most Wanted in January 1997.
the "survey"

That survey is utterly and completely ridiculous. It assumed stupidity on the behalf of the viewer in a way that is even more insidious than television. I am absolutely ENRAGED! Given the way the questions asked and the "choices" for answers it would not matter if a group of artists or a group a group of first graders answered the survey; the resulting painting would essentially be the same. The results of this survey do not as far as Im concerned reflect in any way what Americans want to see in a painting.
Aaron McDannell


Dear Mr. Komar and Mr. Melamid, I just answered your questions and studied the results with interest. I am interested in modern arts, especially in the modern semiotik of modern arts, arts as a "imange- language" in the present time. In my profession as an artist and a teacher of arts in school I am interested in practicing and speaking about visual things the children and their teachers do. In 1987 I visited the documenta at kassel with lots of children from the school. We saw your paintings ( and objects??). We would like to receive an answer from you, thanks best wishes love and peace herman komar
Herman Komar

K&M: Thank you for your warm message. We'll be at Museum Ludwig in Cologne in September. Hope you can see the show.

Dearest V + A I hope you got my message through Igor i Svetlana Kopistiansky. Let's talk soon about the future of the past. Have a look to Dasvidania + love Roberto, Isabella, Irene Aurora
Roberto Paci Dalo'

The "Lenis tomb" project

Dear Komar and Melamid, Last year september i saw your installation "we remember or so it seems" in the Ludwig Museum, Koeln. At that time the exiting project "Lenins tomb" was in fase of planning. I am very much interested in the further development of the project. Would you like to give me some information about it? Thank you very much! In case the Russian parlament hasn't decided yet to let you carry out the project, I hope you will succeed! Best wishes Katja Struif (art student of the academy of fine arts, Enschede, the Netherlands)
Katja Struif

K&M: Thanks for your interest in the project - it was most recently exhibited in Berlin in December 1995, and you can find a good article in the June 18, 1995 issue of the New York Times. All the best.
Your installation at the IMA

Your installation goes up in the galleries in Mid-April. We thought that we would put your web site address on the label so that people can take the survey if they wish.
Holly Day

K&M: Great idea. Please send us information about the installation to the studio. Thanks.

Polls are bourgeois; that is, they're a way of producing highly abstract statistics so that people can be manipulated from above. If you want to find out what kind of art the people (as opposed to the money) "really" want, go to a flea market, a fence show, or, sometimes, a mall. Or notice that working girls are now putting abstract-expressionist designs on their fingernails. And, by the way, numbers always lie, although often they lie beautifully and should be preserved for this reason.
Gordon Fitch

K&M: But polls are everywhere, especially in the malls. Thanks for a thoughtful remark.

Just wanted to say thanks for sending me the slides and info on your project with Renee. I gave my presentation in San Francisco last week on "animal art" and it was well received. Glad to have found you on the web. Craig Roland University of Florida
craig roland

Liked site

Just wanted to say that I really liked your site, and the survey was tons of fun too. It would be cool if at the end of each personal survey a painting was made from the results.
Patricia Medina

K&M: we think that would be cool too.

yuck only a bank could appreciate these paintings.

Your project

As someone also born on September 11 - though it was in 1946, not in 1943 - I felt I had to check out the most/least wanted project. I was not disappointed; I love your intellectual joke (and it is very funny) and you kept my attention rivetted for close to half an hour. That's damn good on the Internet. And you made me want to write you this note. I have been invited to submit proposals to a museum for a website, and I can think of no greater compliment to give you than that you have given me ideas - lots of them. Thank you very much, both of you. Cheers, Jack Kapica
Jack Kapica


I prefer my irony by Scott Walker and my sentiment by Puccini. I could go on.
Ihor Holubizky
beckett @

Appreciation and suggestion

What you're doing is very interesting. If you or diacenter decide to do another survey, we'd be happy to help. We have the most advanced website research technology on the net. It enables you to probe individuals for specific responses by using branches and skip patterns. If you'd like to see what we can do, check out our web user study at If you'd like to see a sample of our pro bono work, we're currently doing a freebie for the NASA Hubble site: Let me know if you're interested. Tomec Smith - president (yes the tomec is czech)
Tomec Smith

Why don't you . . .

A suggestion: Show your Americans Most Favorite Painting alongside a Picasso, a Rembrant, a Mattisse, etc. and ask your survey respondents which painting they actually like the most. If it turned out that the majority of respondents did not most favor your Most Favorite when it was put alongside some other well-regarded works, that might prove either that your questions failed to plumb the actual feelings of Americans regarding art or that Americans don't know what kind of art they like or that there is little aesthetic value in creating things to suit conglomerated opinions. Of course, if everyone picked your painting or the large majority did, then there might be some serious interest to that. In any case, if you ever do decide to show your painting in comparison to others please let me know I would be very interested to learn the results. Thanks very much, Mac McKean
Mac McKean

Fractured Fairy Tales

Hi Alex and Vitaly, I am one of the student curators at the Duke University Museum of Art, which is featuring the web installation of America's Most Wanted. It is a whopping success! Thanks so much; Jennifer, Andrew and I will be sending you a catalog of the exhibition soon. Lisa
Lisa Pasquariello

survey art

How about another survey like the one you've posted, only when the respondent gets done, an automatic work of art comes up on the screen? Picasso once responded to Peggy Guggenheim, "Women's longerie is on the next floor" when she tried to commission PP to paint pictures of certain colors and sizes. Now, with the right computer program, you could do this. Don't miss this great opportunity. With a little marketing, you could print off the size picture they desired and mail it to them. How about a spot on the home shopping channel? "Hate art? Not art *you* create!" I like large western-european painting, favorite colors is black, favorite subject are nude females, favorite painting style is "brushy El Greco," second-favorite color is red (perhaps first, since black may not be a color). Your computer could come up with a giant portrait of the "Burial of Count Orgaz" in red and black with female forms replacing the major figures. A check for $495 could have an oil rendering sent to my home! Thank you for your fine survey.
Lee Sorensen

I liked

taking the survey, but it would be a mistake to think that you can determine what the average person would like in a work of art given the limitations inherent in survey questions. Art is not either or subject or a, b, c, or d subject. I would as suggest that the average person (whatever that means) would not answer survey form on the DIA foundation homepage. As an ironic critique of our survey obsessed society, it was amusing. Also, please read the Afterimage article called Reading by Numbers. I think she has some good points. The popular is hard to define. Yours, Gabrielle Karras

gallup art

yes, I don't think the survey was too hilarios, but the results are (the paintings I mean). The fact that you have decided to make a scenic drawing with a hill on the left side of the paintings on every countrys most wanted painting cannot be traced from the results of the poll, but rather from your own desires. But I think the whole thing is great, but why bother doing the surveys at all? they could be faked and just as valuable. (or are they faked, I'm not sure...) But I'm waiting to see Finland on the list, and its most wanted painting with the elk on it, which was in ARS 95 show. Cheers!
tomi knuutila

most wanted

Check under Wincklemania. You'll see the river nymph. She is what everyone is looking for. Ask her if she wants to be thought of as modern art. You'll be surprised at her answer.
John Leicmon

universality of most wanted pictures

dear k & m: thanks for putting this survey on-line. i saw your article in _the nation_ last year and i enjoyed taking part now. presumably you have noticed the remarkable similarity across cultures with regard to the most and least wanted pictures? the most wanted picture with its pastoral, "natural," setting would suggestion to this biological anthropologist that there is an "innate" preference for visual stimuli that echo our evolutionary heritage! after all we have evolved from forest-dwelling bipedal apes into savannah hunting humans. the least wanted pictures seem very characteristic of recent industrial society and culture: machine precision and abstraction, "unnatural." whaddya think? with best wishes: jeffrey kurland professor of anthropology, penn state unviersity
jeffrey a. kurland

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