The weird story behind Warhol's portrait of Barbie

In 1986, the year before his death, Andy Warhol painted a portrait of Barbie in the style of his famous paintings of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and so many other celebrities. But in Warhol's mind, it wasn't a painting of the doll but rather his dear friend BillyBoy*, a 23-year-old jewelry designer who had a collection of tens of thousands of Barbies. For an art exhibit, BillyBoy*'s dolls were dressed by famous fashion designers and he also designed two dolls for Mattel, "Le Nouveau Theatre De La Mode" and "Feelin' Groovy Barbie."

Warhol had asked to paint a portrait of BillyBoy*, who always declined, until one day he said, "Well if you really want to do my portrait, do a portrait of Barbie because Barbie, c'est moi." So Warhol did.

Last year, BillyBoy* sold his Barbie portrait at Christie's for more than $1 million. He's also turned his back on Barbie.

"I think Barbie is no longer touching on the zeitgeist of the moment," he told the BBC News. "If I had a daughter I would not give her Barbie dolls. I wouldn't want my child to be constantly obsessed with getting something, and that immense preoccupation with high-heeled shoes and clothes." Read the rest

Crazy and amazing unofficial Barbie fashions from the 1960s


Collectors Weekly's Ben Marks says, "Schiffer Publishing has just released 'Doll Junk: Collectible & Crazy Fashions from the ’70s & ’80s,' by Carmen Varricchio, who fills almost 200 pages with images of Barbie and Ken knockoffs and the campy fashions that manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe thought would appeal to little girls. Read the rest

Barbie "computer engineer" book is a total disaster

The storybook has Barbie infecting all her friends' computers with a heart-shaped USB drive, then calling on the boys to fix the computers and program the video-game that she goes on to take credit for. Read the rest

The quest to provide Barbie with a reasonable suit of armor

It's on Kickstarter. Read the rest

Custom dead Barbie in casket

Sarina Frauenfelder, an heiress apparent to the Boing Boing fortune, created this custom Barbie complete with pink coffin. I like that Barbie's flesh has totally decomposed except for her plastinated face. Read the rest

Barbie crashes and burns in China

The Chinese launch of Barbie has crashed and burned, after the multi-million-dollar Barbie flagship store in Shanghai's most fashionable district had to close its doors for lack of business after just two years. Here's Ken Voigt from CNN with an expert's postmortem:

"Barbie spent a lot of money setting up a boutique in the most fashionable part of Shanghai, where you could go and have all of your Barbie needs met. You could have a fashion consultation, you could of course buy lots of Barbie dolls," said Karl Gerth, author of "As China Goes, So Goes the World: How Chinese Consumers Are Transforming Everything."

However, "they didn't think long and hard enough about whether Chinese girls wanted to look sexy or they wanted to look something closer to what you'd associate with Japan -- cute," Gerth added. "So Hello Kitty is doing well, but Barbie is an example of crash and burn."

What do Chinese consumers want? Not Barbie Read the rest

How to turn Barbie into a Weeping Angel

The Mary Sue tracked down a new career for Barbie -- Weeping Angel. The DIY guide, originally found on Wich Crafting, shows how a simple Barbie (or a less expensive impostor) can become the fearsome Doctor Who villain using a few simple ingredients. (And also breaking Barbie's arms.) Consider this a suggestion for holiday gift-giving, in case you want to see if your child is smart enough to notice a missing toy from their collection. Heheheheh, don't blink, kiddies... (via io9) Read the rest