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rickymanchester
09-29-2004, 01:04 PM
I know the argument "Is this art?" has been asked many times before so this is a bit tongue in cheek...

This article has appeared on the bbc.co.uk news website and has caught my eye. I found myself thinking over whether or not this girl is even aware of what she is doing or is she just scrawling in childlike innocence? Whatever she's doing she's doing it right for the art critics of New York apparently!!

Article follows:

Child art prodigy wows New York


Marla Olmstead seems oblivious to the attention
A four-year-old girl is wowing the New York art world with paintings that are drawing comparisons with Jackson Pollock and Wassily Kandinsky.
Marla Olmstead, from Binghampton, in New York state, has been painting since just before she was two years old.

Using brushes, spatulas, her fingers and even ketchup bottles, she is creating canvases of six by six foot.

The prodigy has already sold about 25 paintings, raising $40,000 (22,000) and a new exhibition opens on Friday.

Father Mark, speaking to BBC News Online while on a trip to New York city to do television interviews, said: "She does her own thing, she uses a lot of paint but is oblivious to the whole thing."


The paintings are given simple titles and signed 'Marla', sometimes with the 'r' reversed
He said she had first started painting shortly before her second birthday as her father tried to stop her distracting him from his own amateur art.

"It was me attempting to paint. I painted my wife's portrait and I gave her the paint as a diversionary tactic.

"She went at it with all colours. Initially she directed me, and then it evolved to the canvas.

"I'm her assistant, I hand her the brushes. She doesn't appreciate that most artists have to wait longer to have an assistant," he joked.

Mr Olmstead said his daughter's work was evolving as she developed into a mature artist.


Marla's father acts as her assistant
"She is evolving with technique and her handling of the brush. She seems a little more cautious."

Gallery owner Anthony Brunelli said of 10 pieces about to go on show, six were already sold, and that the remaining four could fetch between $8-10,000.

He said Marla's work was unbelievable for a child.

"Her paintings are very large, anywhere from inches square, to 48 by 64 inches.

"They have vibrant colours, they're very expressive in the way the paint is applied, brush, spatula, her fingers. Some are Kandinskyesque and some are Pollockesque


Marla's family see elements of Jackson Pollock in her work
Mr Brunelli's assessment of Marla's prospects as an adult artist are cautious.

"You never can tell. I've seen her progressing over the past year. The four she just did, each one gets better."

Mr Brunelli said he had a list of 20 people, from as far afield as Japan, who wanted to be allowed first pick of any upcoming work.

Despite prompting from her father, a giggling Marla refused to speak about her work to BBC News Online.

minov
09-29-2004, 01:26 PM
Well, I wondered too....she was on the today show this morning with her parents and a couple of paintings were hung in the background. They are large paintings, abstract with a lot of color and texture....there's something there, but it's all instinct. There can't be any formal ideas informing the process....so take it for what it is....a lot of people will pay money to have the next "big thing".....there's somebody, maybe here at WC (Ican't remember where exactly), who sells paintings done by her turtle.......

ExpressiveAngie
09-29-2004, 02:03 PM
I saw this on the Today show also and pretty much agree with all you have said Mindy. (except the turtle--dont know anything bout a turtle :p )

tremblad
09-29-2004, 02:26 PM
For those who haven't seen the Today show and would like to see her chef-d'oeuvre, here is a link toward NYTimes

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/28/nyregion/28artist.html

Update: the link asks for a membership password. Searching for Marla Olmstead on Google bring me to a link with no password required ...

Lady Carol
09-29-2004, 03:20 PM
I read about her in the NY Times yesterday.

Clearly her Dad helps her. Her Dad is an artist. They showed one painting of hers that has a flat yellow wash on the background and a darker yellow square in the middle. This her Dad must have done as the colour is too even for a 4 year old to achieve. She then dribbled paint over the top of the wash and they called it Asian Sun and said it is hers. It is fine. She (or rather her parents) know the right people to get her this exposure. Her Dad went to school with the owner of the gallery who is currently exhibiting her work. It is all marketing. :cat:

Alena Hope
09-29-2004, 05:17 PM
I agree whole heartedly with Carol, you can market anything into a frenzy with the right connections and hot PR like the Today show. I need to take a lesson from that girls father so I can be just like her. Maybe what I should do is sell my art as being created by my 3 year old son....hmmmm.....maybe I should just hand him a canvas and some paint.

rickymanchester
09-29-2004, 05:56 PM
I feel better knowing that I am not the only cynic out there! :)

Glad you all enjoyed the story. :rolleyes:

joa
09-30-2004, 05:43 PM
Actually, the scribbles in those two pictures look exactly like a four-year-old's marks. It's the other that has me asking questions. I have never known a 4-yr-old who could make that square in the red and yellow picture! And yes, like the rest of you, I am a cynic too.

joa
09-30-2004, 06:25 PM
This from www.ottodafe.blogspot.com

In this case we can be certain of that which we suspect of other artists: Miss Olmstead creates abstract art because she hasn't the technical ability to do otherwise. I can't help thinking that young children at a certain point should not be encouraged to produce art like this. It is indulgent, and no doubt stunts artistic and intellectual growth. To teach children to speak proper English, one must at some point cease addressing them in baby-talk. (I would never speak in baby-talk, mind you; in fact, I steer clear of the matter by avoiding talking to children altogether.) Perhaps Miss Olmstead's parents will one day see that she learns to create grown-up art; but earning $40,000 for her juvenalia is probably no inducement to change her style.

King Rundzap
09-30-2004, 07:36 PM
Well, I wondered too....she was on the today show this morning with her parents and a couple of paintings were hung in the background. They are large paintings, abstract with a lot of color and texture....there's something there, but it's all instinct. There can't be any formal ideas informing the process....so take it for what it is....a lot of people will pay money to have the next "big thing".....there's somebody, maybe here at WC (Ican't remember where exactly), who sells paintings done by her turtle.......

I liked that girl's paintings better than a lot of those typical "geometrical abstracts" I see on tons of artists' sites online. It's certainly art to me.

By the way, the turtle is Koopa--his owner sells his paintings on eBay . . . beautiful stuff, in my opinion. If you're interested in them, sometimes you'll get lucky and a piece will go cheaply (at least in the not-too-distant past that happened), but often now they end at over $100.

Here's a link: http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQgotopageZ1QQsassZturtlekissdesignsQQsosortorderZ1QQsosortpropertyZ1

--King Rundzap

King Rundzap
09-30-2004, 07:40 PM
This from www.ottodafe.blogspot.com
In this case we can be certain of that which we suspect of other artists: Miss Olmstead creates abstract art because she hasn't the technical ability to do otherwise. I can't help thinking that young children at a certain point should not be encouraged to produce art like this. It is indulgent, and no doubt stunts artistic and intellectual growth. To teach children to speak proper English, one must at some point cease addressing them in baby-talk. (I would never speak in baby-talk, mind you; in fact, I steer clear of the matter by avoiding talking to children altogether.) Perhaps Miss Olmstead's parents will one day see that she learns to create grown-up art; but earning $40,000 for her juvenalia is probably no inducement to change her style.

Yikes! You're scary :wave:

My wife and I still talk to each other in baby talk, by the way :-)

--King Rundzap

joa
09-30-2004, 11:37 PM
:D Hey, that was a quote--I didn't say I never talk baby talk. I talk baby talk to my 3 scotties all the time; not that they talk baby talk back--they just talk big tough talk.

joa
09-30-2004, 11:41 PM
I checked out Koopa's paintings on eBay--some of them are beautiful. Great colors, especially the mostly blue ones, and nice movement, swirls, etc. Still, is it art?

King Rundzap
10-01-2004, 07:26 AM
I checked out Koopa's paintings on eBay--some of them are beautiful. Great colors, especially the mostly blue ones, and nice movement, swirls, etc. Still, is it art?

Yeah. To me, X (a variable standing for anything we want it to stand for) is art to S (a subject) if S believes that X is art. I think all art status is necessarily "art to S". I don't think there is an objectively correct answer, so that S can be wrong.

(I have a draft of a definition of what makes something art to S as opposed to some other kind of thing, but it's a bit long, and I posted it elsewhere yesterday, so I'll hold off on that until I get a request ;-)

--King Rundzap

joa
10-01-2004, 07:41 PM
King R.

This is a request! Please post your dissertation on what makes art to S--I'd like to read it.

Jo

lensman
10-01-2004, 10:20 PM
I'll sell any X to S if I can convince him that my X is art and he wants to give me $ for it !!


...painting turtles - jeez - does he undo the caps to the tubes of paint? Choose his own colours? Mix colours? Decide the size of the painting? Will it be abstract or realistic? (as if!).... next thing you know we'll have painting dogs - oh, wait, we already had that this year. I think I'll go buy an elephant, make really HUGE canvases and buy gallons of paint to splosh on and have the elephant spread it all over the place.

JHC, people will buy anything. Is it art? Not in my mind. To me art has to be created by a HUMAN who is consciously aware of what he/she is doing. I may hate the end result but I have to still call it art.

Just wait until robots are creating art... now that's an argument I want to see.

Glenn

Laura G
10-01-2004, 11:29 PM
Yeah. To me, X (a variable standing for anything we want it to stand for) is art to S (a subject) if S believes that X is art. I think all art status is necessarily "art to S". I don't think there is an objectively correct answer, so that S can be wrong.

(I have a draft of a definition of what makes something art to S as opposed to some other kind of thing, but it's a bit long, and I posted it elsewhere yesterday, so I'll hold off on that until I get a request ;-)

--King Rundzap

My definition: Art is the manifestation of the human spirit in a tangible object.
What's yours?

Laura G
10-01-2004, 11:33 PM
I'll sell any X to S if I can convince him that my X is art and he wants to give me $ for it !!


...painting turtles - jeez - does he undo the caps to the tubes of paint? Choose his own colours? Mix colours? Decide the size of the painting? Will it be abstract or realistic? (as if!).... next thing you know we'll have painting dogs - oh, wait, we already had that this year. I think I'll go buy an elephant, make really HUGE canvases and buy gallons of paint to splosh on and have the elephant spread it all over the place.

JHC, people will buy anything. Is it art? Not in my mind. To me art has to be created by a HUMAN who is consciously aware of what he/she is doing. I may hate the end result but I have to still call it art.

Just wait until robots are creating art... now that's an argument I want to see.

Glenn


Too late! The elephant thing has been done already.

King Rundzap
10-02-2004, 06:59 AM
King R.

This is a request! Please post your dissertation on what makes art to S--I'd like to read it.

Jo

Hi . . . it's not a dissertation, just a definition. But here's the latest draft:

Something being "art" or not is dependent on a particular kind of
interpretation of that thing, which in this case, is not entirely
dissimilar to an emotion we're applying towards that thing. It's a
particular way of (metaphorically) framing some object, action, event
or phenomenon. It involves a kind of displacement from a "literal"
and/or the "normal" perception or interpretation of those objects,
actions, events or phenomenon, so that if object X is interpreted or
perceived as "art", object X, to that subject, isn't just "a flat
object with some colors and shapes on it", or "just a staircase", or
"just a mountain". Usually attendant with the ascription (literally
stated or not) of the item in question being an "art" item, which is
dependent on the interpretation or perception, is that object X has
meaning beyond it's usual significance for the subject, and may (at
least initially) spark reinterpretations and reassessments of other
accepted beliefs. There is also usually attendant a more literal kind
of emotion, which we could call the "aesthetic" emotion (which has a
lot of subtypes).

Of course, the above implies that what is art, then, is not
necessarily the same for any two people, just as what is beautiful,
ugly, pleasant, unpleasant, etc. are not necessarily the same for any
two people. It is only the same if the two people in question
interpret/perceive the same things in the same relevant ways.

King Rundzap
10-02-2004, 07:05 AM
I'll sell any X to S if I can convince him that my X is art and he wants to give me $ for it !!


Yeah, me too.


...painting turtles - jeez - does he undo the caps to the tubes of paint? Choose his own colours? Mix colours? Decide the size of the painting? Will it be abstract or realistic? (as if!).... next thing you know we'll have painting dogs - oh, wait, we already had that this year. I think I'll go buy an elephant, make really HUGE canvases and buy gallons of paint to splosh on and have the elephant spread it all over the place.


That might work (the elephant idea), although it sounds like you'd have a lot of overhead (literally and economically:-) If you're really interested in what the turtle does (which includes mixing colors on the canvas), the eBay auctions and the "About Me" link have pretty good explanations of what happens, complete with pictures :-)


JHC, people will buy anything. Is it art? Not in my mind. To me art has to be created by a HUMAN who is consciously aware of what he/she is doing. I may hate the end result but I have to still call it art.


Well, as I mentioned, I like Koopa's paintings a lot better than a lot of abstracts I see people do. To me, I don't have to know who painted something to say, "that's art". If I saw a koopa painting in a gallery, I wouldn't think a turtle did it, and neither would anyone else. To me, the painting itself is what we're talking about. The quality of the paints on the canvas do not change just because we become aware that a turtle painted it instead of a human.


Just wait until robots are creating art... now that's an argument I want to see.
Glenn

Well, there is already computer-generated art (such as the fractal stuff).

--King Rundzap

King Rundzap
10-02-2004, 07:12 AM
My definition: Art is the manifestation of the human spirit in a tangible object.
What's yours?

I find it difficult to believe that if we walked into a gallery/exhibition/museum, you'd refrain from thinking of any of the pieces as art or not until you know that humans created the works.

Laura G
10-02-2004, 02:33 PM
I find it difficult to believe that if we walked into a gallery/exhibition/museum, you'd refrain from thinking of any of the pieces as art or not until you know that humans created the works.

I didn't say it had to be created by a human. I do say that it must transcend the human spirit. That is what each of us see in a work that touches us. The human spirit is that "universal language" that can touch many people in as many different ways.

joa
10-02-2004, 03:38 PM
supposedly cats have been making "art" for centuries. Check out this website:
http://members.lycos.nl/megamieuwsel/id46.htm

King Rundzap
10-02-2004, 05:30 PM
I didn't say it had to be created by a human. I do say that it must transcend the human spirit. That is what each of us see in a work that touches us. The human spirit is that "universal language" that can touch many people in as many different ways.

lol, well, that's not what I see in a work that "touches me", but okay, maybe you would think that some non-human works "manifest" (your original term) or "transcend" the human spirit.

I personally don't think there is a human spirit, I don't buy the notion of a metaphysical transcendence, and I don't think there is a universal language, but I'm a difficult case ;-)

lyndaprice1
10-05-2004, 01:30 PM
I saw this little girl on the Today Show as well. Just my opinion, children seem have a natural sense of composition, but I have never seen a 4 year old draw a perfect square like the one in her painting on her website http://www.marlaolmstead.com/. (http://www.marlaolmstead.com/) I find it hard to believe dad doesn't help. Did she name them too? There is more to abstract art than scribbles. The fact that her paintings are selling for so much is due to exposure and her age, it's just a gimmick.

jbitzel
10-05-2004, 02:05 PM
Well, in the end who is smarter me or her dad. Unfortunately her dad, wish I had his money. He will probably spend it all before she goes to college. :clap:

platapie1
10-05-2004, 02:45 PM
Sigh...I would rather be an artist than an art critic since I am better at the former. I'll leave the latter to all of you! :D

I find it tough to have an "is this art" opinion. I might not like it or even feel it's contrived, a marketing gimic or otherwise, but is it art? That will be for the critics to decide in 50-100 years or so, I suppose. That's how it works, right?

I will say, as a particularly cynical and critical web designer, daddy needs to better optimize those jpegs on her website and get a faster server if daddy wants folks see baby's artwork. I left after viewing only two paintings because it took so long to load.

Carry on...back to my easel.

Aimee :D