"*America's Most Wanted* was an audacious painting, even by the inflated standards of the contemporary art scene. In 1993, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, expatriate Soviet artists who had settled in the United States, received money from the National Institute to study the artistic preferences of people in ten countries. They oversaw a detailed worldwide poll, conducted for them in the United States by Martila and Kiley and by various other public opinion firms overseas. All participants were asked what they would like to see a picture of, whether they preferred interior or landscape scenes, what kinds of animals they liked, favorite colors, what sorts of people they enjoyed seeing depicted - famous or ordinary, clothed or nude, young or old, and so forth. Extrapolated to the general populations of the countries polled, the graphs and tables of figures produced by Komar and Melamid's People's choice project claimed, not unreasonably, to be a reliable report on the artistic preferences of "close to two billion people."
But this project produced more than numerical preferences: these talented artists then went on actually to paint most-wanted and least-wanted paintings for every country in the study- pastiches based on favorite colors, shapes, and subject matters for each nationality.
The least wanted paintings are bad news for anyone hoping someday to see modernist abstraction achieve mass acceptance. People in almost all nations disliked abstract designs, especially jagged shapes created with a thick impasto in the commonly despised colors of gold, orange, yellow, and teal. this cross cultural similarity of negative opinion was matched on the positive side by another remarkable uniformity of sentiment: almost without exception, the most wanted painting was a landscape with water and people, and animals. SInce the overwhelming favorite in the World turned out to be blue, Komar and Melamid used blue as the predominate color of their landscape. THeir Americas Most Wanted, the painting, based on the poll results from the United States, combined a typical American preference for historical figures, children, and wild animals by placing George Washington on a grassy area beside an attractive river or lake. Near him walk three clean cut youngsters, looking like vacationers at Disneyland; to their right two deer cavort, while in the water behind Washington, a hippopotamus bellows."
"People in very different cultures around the World gravitate toward the same general type of pictorial representation: a landscape with trees and open areas, water, human figures, and animals. More remarkable still was the fact that people across the globe preferred landscapes that most resembled upstate New York than what we might think of as the present flora and terrain of Kenya. In an interview, *painting by numbers* the book that presented the data and paintings for the project, ALexander Melamid remarks "It might seemlike something funny but, you know, I'm thinking that this blue landscape is more serious than we first believed. Talking to people in the focus groups befoore we did our poll at the town hall meetings around the country after . . . almost everyone you talk to directly - and we've talked to hundreds of people - they have this blue landscape in their head. It sits there, and its not a joke. They can see it, down to the smallest detail. So I'm wondering, maybe the blue the landscape is genetically imprinted in us, thats it's the paradise within, that we came from the blue landscape and we want it . . . We now completed polls in many countries - China, Kenya, Iceland, and so on - and the results are strikingly similar. Can you believe it ? Kenya and Iceland- what can be more different in the whole fucking world- and both want blue landscapes."