Art Fag City at the Reeler: My Kid Could Paint That

by Art Fag City on October 5, 2007 · 11 comments Events

Marla Olmstead in My Kid Could Paint That

Marla, Mark and Laura Olmstead in My Kid Could Paint That.

I’ve written a review on My Kid Could Paint That, a documentary that follows the career of painter Marla Olmstead a child of contested genius at The Reeler. The teaser below.

I know this sounds snotty, but the media phenomenon of Marla Olmstead, the then 4-year-old painter whose brightly colored abstract canvases sold for upwards of $20,000 dollars in 2005 represents my worst nightmare as an art critic. I say this not because I believe good fine art can only be made by adults, but because her status as a child prodigy is constructed upon popular myths I work to dispel on a daily basis: that artists have innate talent that cannot be taught; that virtually anyone working in the field of art has the knowledge and background to properly evaluate abstraction; that exacting skill and authorship necessarily correlates to artistic talent or the intrinsic worth of a painting.

These falsehoods permeate Amir Bar-Lev's My Kid Could Paint That, a documentary young Marla's rise and fall from art-world fame. As the story goes, Marla began her career as a painter at age 3; by the time she was 4 she had become a superstar, her work discussed in The New York Times, The Today Show and Good Morning America. But was Marla the sole author of these paintings? On an infamous 60 Minutes II episode featured in the film, Charlie Rose interviewed child psychologist and art prodigy expert Ellen Winner who cast serious doubts on their authorship. Sales soon dry up, and Bar-Lev himself begins to question the legitimacy of Marla's work.

To read the full piece click here.

  • http://www.timothybuckwalter.typepad.com Timothy Buckwalter

    Yeah, I agree with your review.

    What I found most interesting about the film was the brief glimpses that are offered of the dynamics of a contemporary middle-class family (two working parents, on different shifts, barely in touch, trying to raise a family and still be themselves). And unfortunately, those issues were not really explored in any sort of depth.

  • http://www.timothybuckwalter.typepad.com Timothy Buckwalter

    Yeah, I agree with your review.

    What I found most interesting about the film was the brief glimpses that are offered of the dynamics of a contemporary middle-class family (two working parents, on different shifts, barely in touch, trying to raise a family and still be themselves). And unfortunately, those issues were not really explored in any sort of depth.

  • http://www.timothybuckwalter.typepad.com Timothy Buckwalter

    Yeah, I agree with your review.

    What I found most interesting about the film was the brief glimpses that are offered of the dynamics of a contemporary middle-class family (two working parents, on different shifts, barely in touch, trying to raise a family and still be themselves). And unfortunately, those issues were not really explored in any sort of depth.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    How quickly we forget the last prodigy:

    Alexandra Nechita
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Alexandra Nechita (b. August 27, 1985) is a Romanian-born American cubist painter and muralist.

    At the age of two, she was working with pen and ink and by five was working with watercolors. Upon her seventh birthday, oil and acrylics were her tools. She had her first solo exhibition at the age of eight at the public library in Whittier, Los Angeles County.

    She has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and has appeared with numerous celebrities, including Bill Clinton. Her talent led to her being known as the “Petite Picasso” as her work, to some, resembles that of the master; she has been known as a child prodigy until late in her teens.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    How quickly we forget the last prodigy:

    Alexandra Nechita
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Alexandra Nechita (b. August 27, 1985) is a Romanian-born American cubist painter and muralist.

    At the age of two, she was working with pen and ink and by five was working with watercolors. Upon her seventh birthday, oil and acrylics were her tools. She had her first solo exhibition at the age of eight at the public library in Whittier, Los Angeles County.

    She has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and has appeared with numerous celebrities, including Bill Clinton. Her talent led to her being known as the “Petite Picasso” as her work, to some, resembles that of the master; she has been known as a child prodigy until late in her teens.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    How quickly we forget the last prodigy:

    Alexandra Nechita
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Alexandra Nechita (b. August 27, 1985) is a Romanian-born American cubist painter and muralist.

    At the age of two, she was working with pen and ink and by five was working with watercolors. Upon her seventh birthday, oil and acrylics were her tools. She had her first solo exhibition at the age of eight at the public library in Whittier, Los Angeles County.

    She has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and has appeared with numerous celebrities, including Bill Clinton. Her talent led to her being known as the “Petite Picasso” as her work, to some, resembles that of the master; she has been known as a child prodigy until late in her teens.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    How quickly we forget the last prodigy:

    Alexandra Nechita
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Alexandra Nechita (b. August 27, 1985) is a Romanian-born American cubist painter and muralist.

    At the age of two, she was working with pen and ink and by five was working with watercolors. Upon her seventh birthday, oil and acrylics were her tools. She had her first solo exhibition at the age of eight at the public library in Whittier, Los Angeles County.

    She has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and has appeared with numerous celebrities, including Bill Clinton. Her talent led to her being known as the “Petite Picasso” as her work, to some, resembles that of the master; she has been known as a child prodigy until late in her teens.

  • _Meh_

    Well put. The whole debacle also reminds me of the “painting elephants” frenzy or the awful book about painting cats. I guess it would be less exciting for a morning show to, for example, feature a woman who has practiced her craft for over years quietly. I guess it doesn’t make as good of a t-shirt.

  • _Meh_

    Well put. The whole debacle also reminds me of the “painting elephants” frenzy or the awful book about painting cats. I guess it would be less exciting for a morning show to, for example, feature a woman who has practiced her craft for over years quietly. I guess it doesn’t make as good of a t-shirt.

  • _Meh_

    Well put. The whole debacle also reminds me of the “painting elephants” frenzy or the awful book about painting cats. I guess it would be less exciting for a morning show to, for example, feature a woman who has practiced her craft for over years quietly. I guess it doesn’t make as good of a t-shirt.

  • http://www.fredperry-poloshirts.co.uk fred perry shirts

    I guess it would be less exciting for a morning show to, for example,
    feature a woman who has practiced her craft for over years quietly.

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