Everyone A Rembrandt

Episodes

First
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
20150112

2015011220150525 (R4)

Art critic Louisa Buck lifts the lid on Painting By Number kits, the 'How To Craze' that swept the world in the 1950's, and promised to turn 'Everyman into a Rembrandt'. The pretension was laughed at by the art establishment, but appreciated by the millions of amateur artists who loved them. The anodyne subject matter of seascapes, landscapes, clowns and kittens, were all given a flat treatment with a simple palette and in the process created an instantly recognisable aesthetic. This was plundered for ironic effect by Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst who saw in Painting By Number a way to critique the relationship between art and taste, and art and mechanical reproduction. Louisa speaks to Dan Robbins in America who did more than anybody else to create the PBN template, as well as collectors, museum curators, and artists inspired by the complex inter-relationships between it, and Pop and Conceptual Art. To some eyes PBN represented all that was crass about post-war American Culture, a pandering to the lowest common denominator, mechanistic, and devoid of artistic merit, to others it empowered generations of ordinary people to pick up a brush and dare to paint. In the process teaching them to look and opening the door onto an artistic world they would otherwise have been denied access to. Painting by Number might have had its heyday, but even in this digital age the attraction of a gentler pastime that doesn't require batteries continues to appeal to a new generation of adherents. Louisa Buck didn't get a PBN kit for Christmas, because her parents thought it wasn't the done thing, now forty years later she sets out to lay that ghost to rest, and prove that PBN is anything but child's play.

20150112

Art critic Louisa Buck lifts the lid on Painting By Number kits, the 'How To Craze' that swept the world in the 1950's, and promised to turn 'Everyman into a Rembrandt'. The pretension was laughed at by the art establishment, but appreciated by the millions of amateur artists who loved them. The anodyne subject matter of seascapes, landscapes, clowns and kittens, were all given a flat treatment with a simple palette and in the process created an instantly recognisable aesthetic. This was plundered for ironic effect by Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst who saw in Painting By Number a way to critique the relationship between art and taste, and art and mechanical reproduction. Louisa speaks to Dan Robbins in America who did more than anybody else to create the PBN template, as well as collectors, museum curators, and artists inspired by the complex inter-relationships between it, and Pop and Conceptual Art. To some eyes PBN represented all that was crass about post-war American Culture, a pandering to the lowest common denominator, mechanistic, and devoid of artistic merit, to others it empowered generations of ordinary people to pick up a brush and dare to paint. In the process teaching them to look and opening the door onto an artistic world they would otherwise have been denied access to. Painting by Number might have had its heyday, but even in this digital age the attraction of a gentler pastime that doesn't require batteries continues to appeal to a new generation of adherents. Louisa Buck didn't get a PBN kit for Christmas, because her parents thought it wasn't the done thing, now forty years later she sets out to lay that ghost to rest, and prove that PBN is anything but child's play.