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Author Topic: 4-year-old abstract painter
Anchoress
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posted 14 January 2005 12:29 AM      Profile for Anchoress     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - A four-year-old girl is winning praise in New York and around the world for her colourful abstract paintings, some of which are going for as much as $15,000 US.

quote:
Though skeptics might question the value of Olmstead's vibrant swirls and streaks of colour, gallery owner Anthony Brunelli says there's no question the shy toddler is talented.

"She builds her paintings in layers. Children don't do that. She starts with big swatches of colors and then adds details and accents on to that. That's what is so impressive and beyond what other children do," said Brunelli, who gave the artist her first gallery show.

Olmstead's technique is also evolving. When she began painting, she used brushes and her fingers. As she moved forward, she created larger canvases, and began working with new tools such as plastic squeeze bottles. Now she has begun dabbling in Jackson Pollock-like drips and dribbles.



From: Vancouver babblers' meetup July 9 @ Cafe Deux Soleil! | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged
audra trower williams
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posted 14 January 2005 12:44 AM      Profile for audra trower williams   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You can see her paintings here!
From: And I'm a look you in the eye for every bar of the chorus | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 14 January 2005 12:45 AM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
which included a three-foot-by-four-foot acrylic painting entitled All Kinds of Colours (the same name the youngster gave to many of her early paintings).

How cute is that, huh?


From: ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Scott Piatkowski
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posted 14 January 2005 01:29 AM      Profile for Scott Piatkowski   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Is anyone else remembering a certain episode of Murphy Brown?
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Papal Bull
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posted 14 January 2005 01:53 AM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ugh.

The adorability of the situation doesn't diminish the vast stupidity of the art community nowadays.

"OMG, HE THREW FOOD ON A CANVAS, WHAT AN AMAZING STATEMENT!"
"It was my child throwing a hot dog at the Mona Lisa because he was having a temper tantrum..."
"Wow, a young, brilliant artist. Five million for that hot dog!"


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Anchoress
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posted 14 January 2005 02:02 AM      Profile for Anchoress     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Papal_Bull:
Ugh.

The adorability of the situation doesn't diminish the vast stupidity of the art community nowadays.

"OMG, HE THREW FOOD ON A CANVAS, WHAT AN AMAZING STATEMENT!"
"It was my child throwing a hot dog at the Mona Lisa because he was having a temper tantrum..."
"Wow, a young, brilliant artist. Five million for that hot dog!"


And that rant was apropos of what?


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Mandos
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posted 14 January 2005 02:07 AM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I thought some of her pieces actually made sense. The "Face" one, for instance, does look indeed like a face. A pretty complex depiction of a face.
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verbatim
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posted 14 January 2005 02:10 AM      Profile for verbatim   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I con only imagine what this would mean to me if I was a struggling painter. I mean, her paintings are pretty interesting, and show a fair bit of instinctive awareness. Even so, it seems kind of arbitrary, somehow, that she would receive so much praise.
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catje
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posted 14 January 2005 04:14 AM      Profile for catje     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, Picasso did spend most of his later life trying to paint like a child.

I think Olmstead has an good innate sense of how to balance colour and form, but i really wonder how much her 'amateur painter' dad is involved in all this. Artists working in the same room tend to pick up each other's styles and ideas, which might explain why her work does look different than the Met's juvenile 'test subjects'.

Furthermore, that level of success at the age of four could be really dangerous for a child. I hope she isn't exposed to an unhealty level of attention, and I hope that she and her family will retain some of her work as the childhood memories and art-therapeutic processing that all kid art is.

[...technical difficulties . . .]

[ 14 January 2005: Message edited by: catje ]


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catje
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posted 14 January 2005 04:16 AM      Profile for catje     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

[ 14 January 2005: Message edited by: catje ]


From: lotusland | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 14 January 2005 10:08 AM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I hope she isn't exposed to an unhealty level of attention, and I hope that she and her family will retain some of her work as the childhood memories and art-therapeutic processing that all kid art is.

That's true. It's the art world for god's sake.

I'd be surprised if she's not an imbittered little Kafka-reading, chain smoker by now.


From: ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Tuppence
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posted 14 January 2005 10:56 AM      Profile for Tuppence     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Papal_Bull:
Ugh.

The adorability of the situation doesn't diminish the vast stupidity of the art community nowadays.

"OMG, HE THREW FOOD ON A CANVAS, WHAT AN AMAZING STATEMENT!"
"It was my child throwing a hot dog at the Mona Lisa because he was having a temper tantrum..."
"Wow, a young, brilliant artist. Five million for that hot dog!"


Amen. Listen, I'm an artist myself, but I can tell you that the art world is a necessary evil. I personally think it's all a fucking joke, and I love to watch the posturing scenesters stroke their chins and say "deep" things loud enough for others to hear them, but that doesn't necessarily mean that this kid's work doesn't have relevance.

She has demonstrated a depth of colour and complexity well beyond her years. Her work is *good*. Although I think it owes more to Chagall than Pollock.

[ 14 January 2005: Message edited by: Tuppence ]


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Anchoress
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posted 14 January 2005 01:16 PM      Profile for Anchoress     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Tuppence:
Although I think it owes more to Chagall than Pollock.

Hey, wow, that is exactly what I thought about her paintings, and I don't know *anything* about art lol!!


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ronb
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posted 14 January 2005 01:43 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Wow. A real life golden egg laying goose.
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Von Mises Pieces
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posted 14 January 2005 03:03 PM      Profile for Von Mises Pieces     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Anchoress:

Hey, wow, that is exactly what I thought about her paintings, and I don't know *anything* about art lol!!



Lol - you probably know more about art than a four-year old child.


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Gir Draxon
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posted 14 January 2005 05:12 PM      Profile for Gir Draxon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I vomitted the other day. There was layering and lots of colors. I'll hold my breath waiting for my 15-grand for that work of art.
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Von Mises Pieces
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posted 14 January 2005 05:18 PM      Profile for Von Mises Pieces     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Gir Draxon:
I vomitted the other day. There was layering and lots of colors. I'll hold my breath waiting for my 15-grand for that work of art.

Did your vomit owe anything to Chagall or Pollack? You may indeed be in for some cha-ching.


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Mr. Magoo
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posted 14 January 2005 05:23 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Consider going into performance art, Gir. Nobody wants a canvas that's going to start smelling in a day or two, but if people are willing to pay to watch a woman stuff yams in her ass, maybe they'd watch you barf.
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mtnbabe
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posted 14 January 2005 06:13 PM      Profile for mtnbabe     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Not being an artist myself (but a lover of art) I actually found her paintings interesting. However, I also believe that a large part of art is the artist's intent.....can a 4 year-old have intent? Maybe I'm not being fair to her (or to all 4 year olds for that matter).

And, I presume that its her parents, not her who started the whole ball rolling (not the making of the art, but the selling of it). I have the same issues with parents who put their young children into modeling....who is this for? How is this any different from any other type of child labour/expolitation? By all means, encourage your child to create art...but encouraging her to sell her art and get famous....not so cool.


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Timebandit
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posted 14 January 2005 07:21 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, mtnbabe, I had a similar thought. To me, art is a form of communication, and a 4 year old, while able to communicate, isn't really able to conceptualize at the level that an adult artist is. To her, they're just pretty colours, IMO. (Not to malign 4 year olds, as I live with a particularly brilliant specimen of one.)

Still, too much fuss at an age before she has developed the intellectual ability that will make her a "true" artist can only be damaging. I don't think child prodigies often turn out to have very happy or healthy childhoods.


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Amy
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posted 14 January 2005 09:42 PM      Profile for Amy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What strikes me as unusual is that the paintings have no empty/negative/blank/whatever space. That's not something I've ever seen in a four-year-old's artwork.... a lot kids don't even have that down when it's stipulated in a grade 12 visual arts assignment.

I do like "Lollipops", though.


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bittersweet
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posted 14 January 2005 09:50 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Zoot: To me, art is a form of communication, and a 4 year old, while able to communicate, isn't really able to conceptualize at the level that an adult artist is. To her, they're just pretty colours, IMO.

Hmm. The girl's conceptualization seems to be appreciated as at the level of a talented 4 year old’s, not the level of an adult artist’s. It's apparently being taken on its own merit.

Her talent allows her to express the way she conceptualizes the world better than most 4 year olds would. Assuming her conceptualization is normal for a 4 year old, but she’s uncommonly good at expressing it, isn’t it just a little compelling to behold a window into a child’s conception of life that's more vivid than the average fridge decoration? (I'm not saying it's worth 15 grand.) In the same way, it might be worthwhile to see art made by a talented, mentally handicapped person. (Again, also maybe not worth 15 grand.)

Slightly off the exact topic, but here's a link to an interesting story about contemporary artists choosing between figurative and abstract painting.
Click

quote:
“It’s like having a heterosexual relationship if you’re gay,” the Los Angeles–based painter says of the earlier pictures, which were shown at galleries in California, New York, and Milan. “And if it doesn’t feel right, why keep doing it?” In today’s anything-goes atmosphere, switching camps—from abstraction to representation or vice versa—is not considered exceptionally radical, or even brave, but it still gives us pause.

From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 14 January 2005 11:10 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Hmm. The girl's conceptualization seems to be appreciated as at the level of a talented 4 year old’s, not the level of an adult artist’s. It's apparently being taken on its own merit.

If it's her own... There was a bit in the article about her father being her "assistant". I had my older daughter in a fine-arts preschool program, and my younger one is in the same one now. It's amazing, when instruction is given, how their usual drawing and painting styles adapted. With more intense one-on-one instruction/assistance/coaching, can we be sure wether she is actually conceptualizing something, or just trying to please papa?

And if I sit down with my 7 year old and have her type out one of her truly fantastic stories, can we get a book deal?

Anyway, I don't think children should be put in the situation of having to "perform" like an adult. That's the part that creeps me out about stuff like this.


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Tuppence
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posted 15 January 2005 01:34 AM      Profile for Tuppence     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Gir Draxon:
I vomitted the other day. There was layering and lots of colors. I'll hold my breath waiting for my 15-grand for that work of art.

Heh. There was actually an "artist" here in Melbourne who did just that. She drank coloured milk so that it would come out in varying degrees of colour, and she made herself puke all over the keypads of ATMs in the city centre. She spun some bullshit about it being a statement against the banks or somesuch. Got herself lots of media attention, though.

The moral- don't use ATMs if you come to Melbourne.


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Snuckles
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posted 15 January 2005 02:54 AM      Profile for Snuckles   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
On a related note:

quote:
To the dustmen of Frankfurt, they were a mess that needed to be cleared from the streets of their spotless city. The yellow plastic sheets were swiftly scooped up, crushed and burned.

But the diligence of the rubbish collectors was little consolation to the city's prestigious art academy, which is now ruing the loss of an important work.

Unknown to the binmen, the sheets were part of a city-wide exhibition of modern sculpture by Michael Beutler, a graduate of Frankfurt's Städel art school.


Back to school for binmen who thought modern art was a load of old rubbish


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catje
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posted 15 January 2005 04:27 AM      Profile for catje     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
One of my art history profs loved that story. we spent a good ten minutes wondering what sort of 'art appreciation' courses the garbage collectors were going to be offered (the full 2oth century magical mystery tour, or something where they hand out practical little charts with titles like 'Is it Art? Y/N'), and whether they get paid for the time they spend attending.
From: lotusland | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
verbatim
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posted 15 January 2005 05:26 AM      Profile for verbatim   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
...what sort of 'art appreciation' courses the garbage collectors were going to be offered...

Yeah, how do you teach appreciation -- of anything? Surely one's own sensibilities are what motivates appreciation? There is understanding, and then there is appreciation. Are these refuse collectors now going to be standing, awestruck, in front of piles of abandoned furniture or heaps of rotting food, unable to disturb the incredibly ironic commentary on the modern preoccupation with consumption that they represent? Will the striking juxtapositions of manufactured and organic media, arranged randomly and differentially decomposing, highlight for them the vast scope of the natural matrix in which all human society is embedded?

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catje
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posted 15 January 2005 05:28 AM      Profile for catje     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
i do that sometimes
From: lotusland | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
verbatim
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posted 15 January 2005 06:18 AM      Profile for verbatim   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well so do I. Sometimes I don't even need garbage.
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Suzette
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posted 15 January 2005 06:53 AM      Profile for Suzette     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Untitled No.17 (Ennui)

[ 15 January 2005: Message edited by: Human Fly ]


From: Pig City | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
catje
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posted 17 January 2005 05:11 AM      Profile for catje     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
pause
[whose making fun of the art snobs?]

not quite my cup of tea, that one
but obviously it was somebody's . . .


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Michelle
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posted 17 January 2005 07:15 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Amy:
What strikes me as unusual is that the paintings have no empty/negative/blank/whatever space. That's not something I've ever seen in a four-year-old's artwork....

I was thinking the same thing. When I looked at the pictures (some of which I like a lot better than others - I love "bikini" ), I thought, "How did her parents get her to cover the whole canvas?"

My son's idea of a completed piece is spending about 10 seconds to two minutes drawing (or painting) some figure on a piece of blank paper, usually in one colour or possibly two if he's feeling really adventurous, and then saying, "Voila!" (not sure where he picked that up), and reaching for the next sheet of blank paper. He could go through a ream of paper in an hour if drawing kept his attention for long enough. Usually he gets bored after the first 20 or 30 sheets though (that represents about 10-20 minutes of work) and moves onto something else.

quote:
Her talent allows her to express the way she conceptualizes the world better than most 4 year olds would. Assuming her conceptualization is normal for a 4 year old, but she’s uncommonly good at expressing it, isn’t it just a little compelling to behold a window into a child’s conception of life that's more vivid than the average fridge decoration?

I agree with this. As to the arguments that she is being too influenced by her art teachers - if she were an adult artist being influenced by other artists, people would just consider that she was painting in the such-and-such genre or style, influenced by so-and-so. Many artists are influenced by artists before them, just as many musicians are influenced by musicians before them.

[ 17 January 2005: Message edited by: Michelle ]


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Suzette
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posted 17 January 2005 07:40 AM      Profile for Suzette     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by catje:
pause
[whose making fun of the art snobs?]

not quite my cup of tea, that one
but obviously it was somebody's . . .


This is about the sum total of how I utilise four years at art school....jeez.


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skdadl
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posted 17 January 2005 10:02 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I agree with everyone's concerns about pushing and exploiting such a wee child, but the paintings are interesting, and so is what I read of her technique. I'm sure she's been coached, but I doubt that coaching would work so well on most four-year-olds. It's interesting. It happens. There have been more than a few musical prodigies of five and six, eg.
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faith
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posted 17 January 2005 11:53 AM      Profile for faith     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
While there have been musical prodigies that have gone on to great things , to my knowledge there has never been a child prodigy in the visual arts that has performed at an adult level or stood the test of time.
The visual arts requires an understanding of spatial dimension that doesn't develop in the human mind until around puberty. The drawings of most children even very artistic children are quite 2 dimensional and don't really have any depth until the kids start to grow up- perspective is a math concept that is just beyond kids.
I love this kids work and most kids like to work very small while this girl works on a large scale with some of those canvasses being almost as tall as she would probably be. Almost all kids are very brave with colour and she shows some very good colour sense.
As far as coaching or teaching goes, all learning requires teachers, no matter what the subjecct matter. Micheal Jordan isn't questioned whether he received coaching and any music prodigy receives the best available teachers, I really don't think that whether the child has a coach or teacher is relevant unless the teacher is actually working on the child's canvass.

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Jingles
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posted 17 January 2005 12:35 PM      Profile for Jingles     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There is an artist at work here, but it is the art of publicity. Her parents obviously understand the first principle of art, which is "say what you want to say about it, but spell my name right".

[ 17 January 2005: Message edited by: Jingles ]


From: At the Delta of the Alpha and the Omega | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
bittersweet
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posted 17 January 2005 01:32 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by faith: While there have been musical prodigies that have gone on to great things, to my knowledge there has never been a child prodigy in the visual arts that has performed at an adult level or stood the test of time.
Not that you're saying this, but while the above may be true, it doesn't diminish the value of what's on the canvas, if it's taken as a talented 4 year old's work which has benefitted from experienced teaching/coaching.

quote:
Originally posted by faith:The visual arts requires an understanding of spatial dimension that doesn't develop in the human mind until around puberty. The drawings of most children even very artistic children are quite 2 dimensional and don't really have any depth until the kids start to grow up- perspective is a math concept that is just beyond kids.
Isn't there a spatial dimension in her paintings, despite being abstract?

quote:
I really don't think that whether the child has a coach or teacher is relevant unless the teacher is actually working on the child's canvass.
Agreed. Writing editors come pretty close to actually working on a writer's text--say, by being fierce taskmasters (e.g., young Ezra Pound had his F.M. Ford), yet we don't say the edited text is less authentic. (We might, but we'll never know for sure!)

Jingles: All through history, artists have needed to promote their work in order to live. But somehow this is scandalous? Somehow this is art's "first principle?" Carpenters and landscapers and accountants need to promote their services, but we don't say that promotion is the first principle of those, or most other occupations. I might agree with, say, real estate, or other forms of middle-man sales jobs...but art? Whenever I've encountered people holding this opinion, and I've bothered inquiring a little into their attitude, I've found it's always the case that they don't have the means to appreciate art for whatever reason, so they bad-mouth it. The usual way to do that is to insinuate that artists shouldn't promote their work to make a living.

[ 17 January 2005: Message edited by: bittersweet ]


From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Papal Bull
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posted 17 January 2005 02:02 PM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Not to say her art isn't pretty, but my impression of a lot of the art community has been negative. Especially when the "top artists" at my school claim pieces by Bernini and Johan Dahl to be "inferior" and "lacking in beauty".

I particularly liked the blue sun piece. I personally thought it looks more like a squid, but I'm no artist. But I'm still going to stand up and say that if I were to give my 4 year old cousin a paint set and a large piece of high quality canvas and ask her to fill it up, her art wouldn't look too different. Some of the pieces like "Under the Influence" show the beginning of something, but I'd imagine most children to be able to create something along those lines.


From: Vatican's best darned ranch | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 17 January 2005 02:25 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I disagree with you, Papal_Bull, and I have the experience of raising a child past that age, and studying Early Childhood Education (including a children's art course - what an awesome course that was) and doing a year of co-op placement in a day care centre. Plus, of course, admiring the artwork of many fellow parents' children.

Most four year-olds absolutely do NOT paint like that, even with coaching. At that age, they're still learning how to manipulate the materials. As Amy says, there is generally a lot of white space, and as any parent who doesn't want to use a whole ream of paper for one art session will tell you, it's very difficult to get a child to cover the entire canvas, much less in the way this child has done, and then add detailed accents on top of it. I'm not saying it's impossible (obviously it's not!), but there aren't many four year olds who have the kind of mastery of the manipulation of the paint that this kid obviously has.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Papal Bull
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posted 17 January 2005 02:54 PM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Maybe my little four year old cousin is similar to this girl because her finger paintings of cats on construction paper look quite beautiful. I'm not saying this child is not unique. I'm positive she is, but she was given materials that are quite uncommon for a child to have. And if you were to give the child a slight push in any direction, the art could come out very differently.

My cousin's brothers on the other hand, sheesh, they end up just throwing the paint at other kids

Marla can make connections that few young children can in her art, and the pieces are really interesting. I'm just saying that the art community throwing thousands of dollars at her might just be a little excessive.


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faith
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posted 17 January 2005 05:06 PM      Profile for faith     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Isn't there a spatial dimension in her paintings, despite being abstract?

There are spatial divisions but not depth of field or spatial dimension. Her divisions of her space ( the canvass) are based on dominant colour occupying the largest space with contrasting colour completing the composition. There are some very loosely defined forms in some of the pieces but the shapes are quite flat.
Ask this child to complete a master's work and she won't be able to nor should we expect her to. On the other hand ask a violin prodigy to play a difficult classical composition and they will most likely be able to perform quite competently.
The depth of field will not be part of her work for several years . I have taught children drawing, painting, and 3 dimensional work for the last dozen or so years and she is ahead of other children her age in some ways. She works large- that takes courage and the ability to consider the whole work surface not just some tiny detail, her colours are well defined - other children commonly start out with great colour only to keep adding and adding more paint until the whole thing is a neutral brown or black, she uses colour to create contrast - most kids fall in love with a colour and just keep adding more of it until the whole thing is dominated with an overbearing abundance of one colour or too blended (as previously mentioned), so her use of colour shows a shophistication beyond 4 years of age.
However, children at a very young age are not afraid of making mistakes and will gladly pour on the colour . As the children get older often they become far more cautious and are much more conscious of the outcome. This little girl may become very aware of her success or lack of it through the attention and I would also worry about the effect on her.
It is amazing what children understand and just absorb when surrounded by an art environment and given the right tools to work with. Sometimes kids pick up knowledge without even being aware that they have done so by just observing a process over and over and watching other people (in this case the parents) make mistakes as well as have successes.

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Jingles
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posted 17 January 2005 07:39 PM      Profile for Jingles     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
To abstact, one must have an understanding of what one is abstacting. A four-year-old can't abstract. She is just painting pretty colours. She has the advantage of great publicity, an advantage not available to every refrigerator-door Rembrandt.
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bittersweet
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posted 17 January 2005 09:22 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Jingles: A four-year-old can't abstract.
Is that true? When you lie with them in the grass and search for clouds that look like faces, despite runaway imaginations, are they able to grasp that the clouds are "like" faces, but aren't the real things?

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catje
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posted 17 January 2005 09:44 PM      Profile for catje     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm not concerned about the validity of Olmstead's work so much as I am about the number of child prodigies who grow up to be profoundly unhappy. Do we really want to introduce four-year-olds to the world of fame and money by commodifying their creative output if we don't have to?

Certainly, professional artists need some sort of market to support them and their work. Children, unless they are very unlucky, do not. And most of us who have been anywhere near the art market wouldn't wish it on any youngster.


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Anchoress
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posted 17 January 2005 10:06 PM      Profile for Anchoress     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by catje:
I'm not concerned about the validity of Olmstead's work so much as I am about the number of child prodigies who grow up to be profoundly unhappy. Do we really want to introduce four-year-olds to the world of fame and money by commodifying their creative output if we don't have to?

That's a good point, but I think it's also important to ask (and I am truly curious, I don't have the answer myself) whether or not it actually makes a difference to the happiness of a 'child prodigy' whether or not the child's gift is 'commodified' or otherwise emphasised? My understanding (supported anecdotally) is that prodigies are unhappy regardless of how much or little their gifts are explored or indeed exploited.


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catje
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posted 22 January 2005 03:53 AM      Profile for catje     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So the poor kids are DOOMED? That's pretty rough. My (similarly anecdotal) evidence tends to run to the contrary- it's the pressure of other people's attention/judgements/demands/expectations too soon and in too great amounts which are truly scarring for children. How could simply having a gift make one miserable? From feelings of isolation because they're 'different'? Most kids have that to some degree for a wild variety of reasons.
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Michelle
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posted 13 August 2008 03:56 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Bump!
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M. Spector
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posted 13 August 2008 12:57 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sorry, I find Marla's work derivative and jejune.

From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Robespierre
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posted 13 August 2008 01:19 PM      Profile for Robespierre     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
Sorry, I find Marla's work derivative and jejune.

Jejune!

M.Spector wins this thread, right there.


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Catchfire
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posted 13 August 2008 01:51 PM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
My Kid Could Paint That/
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Timebandit
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posted 13 August 2008 02:15 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"Prodigy" or "primative"?

A question that pops up for me is the level of coaching involved -- how involved are the parents? Preschoolers will often paint similarly, but tend to not know when to quit adding colour and blending and wind up with a darkish, muddy-coloured result. Some have floated the idea that Marla is guided by her father, and this makes a great deal of sense to me.


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Michelle
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posted 13 August 2008 02:31 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sure, makes sense to me too...but then, most great artists have had teachers and influences, right?
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Timebandit
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posted 13 August 2008 03:29 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, but teaching is different from coaching, and even coaching an adult is very different and less involved than coaching a child.

Influences are more something that interests you and then you take on some aspects yourself -- not many 4 yr olds are going to have artistic influences.

If the dad is standing over the kid and making suggestions about colour, placement, what needs smearing, says "Okay, that one's done now" and puts the canvas away, then it's not the same as an artist who conceptualizes something and attempts to execute it or even a process-oriented artist who uses his or her own judgement of what works or doesn't. To my mind, as a visual artist of sorts, that is a big part of what makes art.


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Catchfire
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posted 13 August 2008 11:59 PM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I watched the film about Marla last week, and it's pretty obvious that the Dad paints at least some of her canvasses and tells her where to put certain paints and when to stop. You look at some of the paintings she's meant to have painted, and the first thing that strikes you is there's no way a kid could paint these, at least by herself. Children prodigies are one thing: chess, musicians, math wizzes. But those things simply entail rote learning--rather, learning these things by rote is as far as children can be expected to progress in those fields. Big ideas in abstract painting just can't be processed by 4-year-olds (I think she's seven now).
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Catchfire
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posted 14 August 2008 12:46 AM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
One of the funny things about the film is that at Marla's first big vernissage, the gallery is filled with big-name art critics and media, dressed in their Manhattan finest. After the 60 Minutes exposé, her fans are all the Fort Lauderdale set: sixty-year old men and women with carrot tans, pastels and dangly earrings. They think it's just adorable (but still shell out several thousand dollars).
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Michelle
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posted 14 August 2008 02:28 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Okay, so let's say it's a collaborative effort between Dad and daughter. The end result is still pretty fabulous, right? I mean, did people buy it because it was "good for a four-year-old"? Or did they buy it because it was "good"?
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Catchfire
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posted 14 August 2008 04:17 AM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, I think knowing the usual relationship between parent and child, we can say that 'collaboration' is the wrong word. I don't know much about abstract art, and even less about painting techniques. But in the film it's pretty clear that the Dad at least tells Marla where to paint and with what colours, when a work is finished, and probably paints himself on works he says are Marla's.

As for whether the paintings are 'good'--some of the ones before the 60 Minutes ep look interesting, I guess. Not really my thing, but certainly some critics thought they were worthy of a fairly successful painter--although no museums purchased her art to my knowledge. But I think the paintings benefited from a markup based on her hype.

I'm interested in the idea that a child could have a liberated view of colour and brush strokes, and a so-called 'untrained' hand could offer new persepctive. I'm sure some of that is at work here. But a good work of art needs more than that, I think.

Of course, it's pretty clear that some of Marla's work--even those that there's a good chance Marla did all on her own, speak pretty loudly to people. I don't want to overlook that. A lot of people think she's pretty great. My biggest problem--and this is something that the film is concerned with as well--when the money for her paintings start to go up, just like with any artist who makes it big, you lose focus as to what the work is in the first place: like why does a Marla painting sell for $200, and then a few months later, another sells for $10000? It's ridiculous, and you have to question what's at stake here, however fabulous the paintings 'are'.

[ 14 August 2008: Message edited by: Catchfire ]


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