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Just Above the Mantelpiece: Mass-Market Masterpieces Hardcover – September 1, 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Booth-Clibborn; 1st Ed. edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861541945
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861541949
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 0.8 x 12.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,657,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Flipping through this book one day, I was shocked, or rather, surprised to finally look at a painting I'd seen featured in two favorite films: Performance (1970) and Frenzy (1972) and also used on the first Sound Gallery CD cover. I remembered this painting growing up yet never knew who the artist was. So naturally, I bought the book.
The English have a habit of fondly holding on to the past, at least when it comes to pop culture. This book certainly does that. Crammed full of incredible artwork form people once considered disposable, yet now highly reveered. The text is somewhat hard to read and not particularly extensive, but its almost irrelevant. What matters are the gorgeous reproductions of the art. And many of them are printed twice so you can peel them off for future framing - what a great idea!
If you can appreciate 'trash' for what its worth and have a passion for some truly amazing art, this book is absolutely worth buying. Within time, I predict some of these artists will be considered downright hip and adored by the right people, but still, this book is great. Take a look in the attic, one of these paintings may be there...
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Format: Hardcover
Neat treatment of the subject that mercifully ISN'T loaded with campy, "hip" contempt or irony. Hemingway genuinely likes this stuff and so do I. American readers will be entertained because much of this is British or European mass-market art that wasn't as popular here, but should have been! I'm amazed at the selection British big-eyes paintings that are such odd relations to their Keaney American cousins. The book has a great design with several of the lithos duplicated "post-it" style over their pages in the book so you can take them out and frame them yourself while keeping the book intact. Unfortunately they're not necessarily the ones I would have picked, like the Tretchikoffs, probably for copyright reasons. Come on, manufacturers, take a tip from Hemingway's book and let's bring back the days of saucer-eyed kidz, bright oil-painting colors and .... as accents for the living room!
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Format: Hardcover
'Just Above The Mantlepiece' is a weird journey through your childhood that will bring back good and bad memories of the art prints that adorned your quirky Aunt & Uncles house or your sisters room. This art is fast becoming highly collectible again through the resurgence of the 'Big Eye' art movement made famous by Margaret Keane. Remember those sad big-eyed animals,the misfit and street urchin paintings,the crying children, Tretchikoff's Green Lady and 50's exotic women, the voluptuous South Sea Island brunettes of JH Lynch, the cute Maio girls with cats or mandolins, and those little Go Go kids by Eve or Lee. You do? Well this book is full of such mass market art memories, a popular art genre never before acknowleged or given respect in such a glorious way. This book even has some pages printed with an extra copy of the art for framing, as it was meant to be. A true Celebration of our popular culture, and a great reference guide for the lounge art collector. Robert Rechter.
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Format: Hardcover
Andy Warhol understood the conflict between the tastes of the masses and what's considered "Good Art" by the cognoscenti. His soup can and Marilyn Monroe took common icons and created pop icons instantly. This was one of the 20th Century's most brilliant comments on "us" and the world of art. The conflict between the rarified world of fine art and popular art is really fascinating, and this book hits the mark.
King of Kitsch Hemmingway does a great job here of describing various popular artworks and why they've made the transition from "bad" to "beloved." A fun book, and a great concept, complete with peel-off art for your very own.
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