Monday, October 22, 2007

Marla Olmstead

Is anyone familiar with Marla Olmstead?

Marla is a now seven-year old painter from Binghamton, New York. She started painting randomly, like any seven-year-old would, but she ended up making thousands and thousands of dollars in the process.

At first, her artwork was displayed at a local coffee shop, where locals questioned the price for the pieces (which seemed like a joke at first). Eventually, Marla opeed her own show which caught media attention of the New York Times, and her name spread world-wide.

Then, 60 Minutes came out with a bit on the "scandal" of her paintings. Apparently, some analyst came to the conclusion that Marla was not painting the pieces, but she was receiving help from her father due to inconsistancies in the paintings and from video footage watching her paint. Her parents say that she does not perform the same when on camera.

It's really your decision. Who knows if she really is painting them? Do we need to know? Is this really a big scam to make money, or is she a child prodigy? I'm curious to see what you think.

For more information, check out this article, view the artwork below, or view the documentary My Kid Could Paint That, of which I have viewed, and it left me puzzled and still searching for answers.

What do you think?

Is it special? Significant? Does it matter that she does/doesn't paint this? Do you like it? Is it too abstract? Is it crazy that they're selling for thousands of dollars? Anything?





Lollipop House



Asian Sun



Sick Teeth



Ode to Pollock





Zane





10 comments:

Anonymous said...

This post isn't very old but I am currently in the process of watching "My 4-year-old Could Paint That" and I had to look at all of Marla's paintings for myself.

You could see in her paintings that circles are very consistent. In the beginning, it was splatter marks.
It later paintings, she paints like a child would but circles are still very consistent.

Doesn't any artist go through that
process, though?
Constantly experimenting.
Is that not really the essence of
art itself? Experimenting?
Even if she is a child just enjoying playing with a paint brush.
Your style changes over time and
through experimentation.

Of course, though, from the moment
you begin to speak and learn that
everything has a formula and solution to it, you begin to over
analyze and that is what happened
to that little girl.

JulieS said...

I also have watch "My 4-Year-Old Could Paint That" and I completely believe that she is painting them herself. All of her paintings have this childlike innocence about them that would be hard to try and fake. In addition, they show the dad's paintings in the movie and they look NOTHING like the beautiful creations that Marla makes. Props to her for being amazing!

Anonymous said...

I've watched "My Kid Can Paint That" and I'm still not sure whether she painted them or not. They made newer videos of her painting, but she's 7 now, she could've been taught different techniques and styles. And yes, maybe she did paint all her paintings, but isn't it possible that maybe her dad doctored them up? By doing that, you can retain the "child-like innocence" yet make it look way better. And we never really got to see the father's paintings so you can't say he didn't help. And the paintings we did see of his were not abstract, so we wouldn't know how they would look. And don't tell me that those 2 she did for 60minutes and the documenter didn't look like crap, because they did, abstract or not. Thanks, and have a great day.

Anonymous said...

As an inspired art student, I definetly believe the works of Olmstead to not be her creations alone... I know it's upsetting, but it's very obvious. Her earlier paintings were mesmerizing. I'm not particularly a huge fan of abtract but I found the works "Zane Dancing" and a few others to be passionate, directed, mature and just balanced overall.
Her later works that sprang up after the 60 Minuts scandal are in VIOLENT contrast to the supposed aim of her other "works".

Not to beat a dead horse but...
the later works do look like they were created by a 4-6 year old!

Another important thing to notice...
In the earlier works, there is a very finite amount of paint being used in them. In the later, it is an ORGY of colors and loud loud contrasts, as if her father was watching her paint and saying "keep going kep going!" hoping that the more paint she added the more eccentric it would look...

Anonymous said...

As an inspired art student, I definetly believe the works of Olmstead to not be her creations alone... I know it's upsetting, but it's very obvious. Her earlier paintings were mesmerizing. I'm not particularly a huge fan of abtract but I found the works "Zane Dancing" and a few others to be passionate, directed, mature and just balanced overall.
Her later works that sprang up after the 60 Minuts scandal are in VIOLENT contrast to the supposed aim of her other "works".

Not to beat a dead horse but...
the later works do look like they were created by a 4-6 year old!

Another important thing to notice...
In the earlier works, there is a very finite amount of paint being used in them. In the later, it is an ORGY of colors and loud loud contrasts, as if her father was watching her paint and saying "keep going kep going!" hoping that the more paint she added the more eccentric it would look...

Taron said...

Guess what I just watched on Starz! I find it a general travesty in the art world, putting giantic price tags rather on ideas behind a painting than the paintings themselves. I think it's exactly that, which makes it so hard to recognize the quality of most contemporary abstracts. People so much rely on what they're told to enjoy. If there was any guarantee, that such suggestion would produce a lasting pleasure, it could be considered justifiable, but what's really rotten about it is, that those who lead people into eating up such art don't really care about that. It's a business very much like all others. It's not about considering mankinds heritage or nurturing a desirable evolution.

So, if there was a decent reason to look at any of Marla's paintings with pleasure and if that pleasure can't come without the idea of her having painted it, I would encourage the belief.

I, however, have to admire the level of strength necessary for her parents to maintain such an exhausting portrayal of honesty and responsibility.

And here's the very blunt version of what I'm trying to say: The strokes in the celebrated- or celebratable- pieces I've seen are more sophisticated and controlled than any of the footage of her suggests. The are not her own freeform "leave me alone with the canvas"-paintings. I'm sure she's going to become a stunning artist, just alone by her courage and actualy experience to deal with paint. I'm also sure that she has a predisposition to express herself artistically. Her confidence will hurl her into a challenging rollercoaster ride with most likely more severe self-doubts than other teens. She'll need proper support and actually proper training to develop an understanding about what she can or can not know, yet. Otherwise she'll go simply nuts by the time she has to stand on her own feet. I think that's not uncommon in american society. Children often get pushed into wrongful self esteem by inproper encouragment through wild praise. In the early years, they should really get every opportunity to explore all sorts of things. You can't just spot a talent and then keep pushing. They need time and opportunities, nurture on a different level. Love and trust come first. That gives them the understanding to make mistakes and the courage to correct them or change. Everything else just makes them turn to lies and pretence, since the have to validate things that are untrue in order to harvest the praise that gave them so much joy in the early years of their lifes.

But those are all just my two cents, stretched to a fortune, haha, but I feel like I'm in good company with that concept, hahaha!

One last thing: My god is that a cute girl, though. I truely wish her all the very best!

crayola4lyfe said...

i also just watched that and was looking up more of her artwork.
and i'm also an abstract painter and i thought the whole thing was extremely interesting because like first of all especially with abstract paintings it's completely your emotions and thoughts and surrounding and yourself going into the paintings, it's true of all art there's just something else that goes into it, and when it comes to abstract paintings, it's just completely that's something else in the most raw form. now if you have a shy 4 year old girl that loves painting and all of a sudden there's all this drama because of your paintings and there's these strangers trying to film you painting, that's clearly going to effect her! and of course that effect is going to in turn show in her paintings.

also, if you are an art collector, and you are buying a painting, and you're not sure if this 4 year old is the one who made it, why should that make a difference? i mean if i were to buy a painting my decision is going to be based on if i like the painting, how it effects me, what emotions it brings out in me, what thoughts it brings out, not who made it or how old they are.

also, when it comes to abstract painting, why is it such a surprise that a 4 year old can make such amazing paintings? i mean the whole thing about abstract paintings, the main talent it takes is being able to take away that filter, to not think about the outcome and just enjoy what your doing and not think about it too much to let it just naturally come out of you and onto the canvas, and then also having a good sense of color and shape and all that stuff, which is something that if you have you have from birth generally it's not like you acquire it with age.

Anonymous said...

I can't see how anyone could watch the movie and, based on the information presented, not come to the conclussion that she did not do these unassisted. I am not necessarily saying that's the case, just that that is how the information in the movie added up. That said, the evidence provided by the parents themselves (video taped paintings compared to the others)makes a compelling case for this being a fraud. Regardless, it sure says a lot about the modern art scene.

The Kid In The Front Row said...

For me, personally, I feel certain they are fakes. Every single thing she does on camera, and on the hidden camera, is typically childish looking stuff. Lovely, but childish. But then stuff she sold for thousands looks amazing, and has so much depth to it. They're worlds apart.

David said...

Just came across this blog after watching the movie and doing some Google searching.

I find this discussion fascinating, and against the apparent evidence that her work is not her own, I find myself completely convinced that it is.

There's something of a bell-curve logic at play: if all the paintings looked like the work of a 4-year old, I'd believe they were hers (of course). If they looked like the work of a talented 40 year old, I'd be skeptical and suspect that she did not paint them. However, the fact that many of them are so extraordinarily and exquisitely beautiful actually make them more likely to be her own.

Genius is a rare bird, and can not be added as a "touch up" on the work of an amateur. Typically it requires a combination of inspiration with refined skill.

Marla's style of abstract art is a rare medium where genius could manifest without the typical refinement of an adult craftsman. So in her case, only inspiration and access to the materials would be needed. As for her inability to convincingly reproduce her technique on film, any quantum physicist could confirm that the act of observation cannot be done without affecting the observed. I imagine that the meditative artistry of a genius could be altered drastically by even subtle outside energies.

It seems plausible that the true artistry within her work can only flow when unobserved and unaffected by external observers. Either way, those paintings should be celebrated in and of themselves, regardless of which hand(s) served as the artistic vessels.