29 August 2006
Farewell to a king of Kitsch
Vladimir Tretchikoff, the artist whose painting of the Green Lady adorned countless homes in the 60s and 70s and became the best-selling commercial print of all time, has died aged 93. Tretchikoff, who earned the title "the king of kitsch", died in a nursing home in Cape Town, South Africa, on Saturday.
The artist's most famous work, properly known as The Chinese Girl, was inspired when, on a trip to San Francisco, he spotted the daughter of a local restaurant owner and asked if he could paint her. The portrait, notable for the blueish hue to the woman's skin and the yellowed collar of her tunic, sold more than half a million copies. "I always called it my father's Mona Lisa," his daughter, Mimi Mercorio, said of the 1950 work. "I never thought at the time it would become so famous, but it seemed to catch the public eye and they loved it."
The portrait appeared everywhere and became evocative of British popular culture. Tretchikoff always insisted he was a serious artist and hated being categorised as kitsch. Ms Mercorio said: "He didn't like it. It was a label that was dumped on him and it stuck. They abused it. If you look at his works, you can't call everything kitsch."