Saturday, October 6, 2007

A Future in Finger Painting

Mia Fineman of Slate magazine reported recently on young Marla Olmstead who sold more than $300,000 worth of paintings before the age of 5. It all started when a family friend hung one of Marla's paintings in a local coffee shop, next thing we knew she had a solo gallery show. 60 Minutes then aired a piece about Marla suggesting that her father, a night-shift manager and an amateur painter, had a hand in her success... and sales came to a halt. Now the whirlwind journey is documented in My Kid Could Paint That by Amir Bar-Lev. It all brings interesting questions to the table, as Mia Fineman asks better than I can,

"Does it matter that she has no knowledge of these artistic precedents, and most likely, no clear concept of "art" itself? Is Marla a prodigy or a primitive? Can a work of art transcend the intentions of its maker? If a child can make great abstract paintings, does this mean that modern art is itself a hoax, a high-culture con game?"

Do you think children can be true artists? Must art be derived from years of life experiences, love, heartache, disappointment, success, failure, or can it just be what it is? Pretty colors and swirls...

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