Americans Love Cheesy Art

The most searched for artists, according to one website, run the gamut from classic masters to Duck Stamp contest winners

painting class
Rana Faure/Corbis

Americans’ taste in art apparently spans a wide range, at least according to their searches for art on eBay. The site recently released an infographic populated by artists as diverse as American Impressionist Mary Cassatt, large-format photographer Ansel Adams, mysterious street artist Banksy, and — in a great swath through the center of the country — Terry Redlin, who paints nostalgic, idyllic scenes of Americana and wildlife.


Redlin doesn’t have the cache of the other artists, or as detailed a Wikipedia entry, but in the last several decades, his "meteoric rise has been unparalleled int he field of contemporary wildlife art," according to the website for the South Dakota-based Redlin Art Center. That may be why Redlin’s sweep of the country’s center includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. "He was consistently voted America’s most popular living artist in the 1990s," writes Jonathan Jones for The Guardian. He also won several state’s Duck Stamp contests and placed second in the Federal Duck Stamp contest in 1982. 

The taste for the fairy tale-esque and the kinda corny also gains Thomas Kinkade some popularity on the map. Norman Rockwell claims both Massachusetts and Vermont with another kind of tug-the-heartstrings Americana work. Jones notes with relief that Pablo Picasso and Frida Kahlo claim a few states. 

The art forum Hyperallergic reports that eBay "used the top 50 most searched artists on eBay, compared with industry trends and search engine data to determine which artists were the most searched in each state." 

That doesn’t really help us answer questions such as: "What significance does Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi have to people in Michigan?" Hyperallergic points out. But perhaps it’s because the Detroit Institute of the Arts has the painter’s "Judith and Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes" in its collection. Plus there’s a resurgent interest in the 17th century Italian, whose paintings do not shirk away from the violence of some Biblical stories.

But then, that’s just one question. Others, like why Florida’s interest in Salvador Dali trumps other artists in that state, are still unanswered.

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