Does high art suddenly have mass culture appeal? Even with the growing number of reality shows on the subject my guess would be no — most people I know outside the field aren’t exactly spending a lot of time reading up on the subject –but clearly the creative folks over at Mattel don’t agree. This week, the toy company released three new Barbies inspired by well known works of art.
And are these dolls ever a draw! Surely, children everywhere will flock to local toy stores to get their hands on the velvet garbed Mona Lisa, a collectible New York Times reporter Randy Kennedy aptly describes as resembling “a model in an ad for a Renaissance fair”. Then there’s the Barbie inspired by Starry Night, a landscape painting by Vincent Van Gogh, who’s most defining feature is her ginormous head. She looks like a starvation victim. The doll’s cocktail dress is the main reference to the painting — it’s just a reproduction of the work — though her shoes are more inspired. The ribbon wrapped around her leg mimics the curls in Van Gogh’s clouds. Fancy.
My favorite of the three is the wind blown Gustav Klimt doll inspired by his painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer I — she looks like a sci-fi character in a David Lynch movie — though I can’t help but think I’d like to see a few other fine art themed Barbies. A few ideas:
1. Richard Kern Barbie! Her outfits will like be very inexpensive and hopefully this will give Mattel a chance to experiment with small tattoos.
2. Nick Cave Barbie! Genderless, raceless and covered soundsuit. It would basically be the antithesis of the doll.
3. Francis Bacon Barbie! Actually, I’m not sure I want to see what that would look like.
4. Emerging Artist Barbie! This isn’t a euphemism for hipster. I nominate little known Mixed Greens artist Allesandro Exposito for this duty. She doiliefies skeletons so I’m sure the transition to dolls would be a smooth one.