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.