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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 August 2006, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
'King of kitsch' Tretchikoff dies
Vladimir Tretchikoff
Tretchikoff worked as a propaganda artist for the British in World War II
Artist Vladimir Tretchikoff, whose painting The Chinese Girl became the highest-selling print in history, has died in South Africa aged 92.

Tretchikoff had been in poor health for a number of years and suffered a stroke in 2002 that left him unable to paint.

He became known as the "king of kitsch" through his prints, which were immensely popular in the 1960s and 1970s - although he hated the nickname.

The Chinese Girl is thought to have sold more than half a million copies.

Popular culture

Born in Petropavlovsk in Kazakhstan - at the time part of Russia - Tretchikoff lived through the Russian revolution and survived a spell in a prison camp in Indonesia during the Second World War.

Self-taught, the artist - who painted with oils and watercolours - moved to South Africa in 1946 and four years later painted The Chinese Girl, also known as The Green Lady.

He achieved everything that Andy Warhol stated he wanted to do but could never achieve because of his coolness
Wayne Hemingway, designer

The Chinese Girl is believed to have sold more prints than either Leonardo da Vinci's famous masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, or Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers.

It became evocative of UK popular culture in the 1960s and featured in the 1966 Michael Caine film Alfie.

"I always called it my father's Mona Lisa," Tretchikoff's daughter Mimi Mercorio told the AP news agency.

"I never thought at the time it would become so famous, but it seemed to catch the public eye and they loved it."

But Tretchikoff had a number of critics in the art world, who dismissed his work as "art for those who hate art."

His popularity also led to him being called the "king of kitsch" - although he hated this and insisted he was a serious artist.

Wayne Hemingway, author of the book Just Above The Mantelpiece - which is a defence of popular art - said Tretchikoff "achieved everything that Andy Warhol stated he wanted to do but could never achieve because of his coolness".


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