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Intellectual House o' Pancakes Webdiary

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2008-04-28 - 11:04 a.m.

Go cubs!

One of the other fun things I did this weekend was watch the slightly disturbing but fascinating documentary My Kid Could Paint That.

But first let me say that as multi-layered and interesting as this doc is, I think the filmmaker is creepy, manipulative, and exploitive. I'm a little conflicted about recommending this movie, because I don't want him to benefit from its creation. So, hmm.

Nevertheless, it explores the bizarre story of a 4-year-old girl named Marla from upstate New York who briefly became the toast of the art world based on wildly beautiful abstract paintings that she allegedly created.

And then, overnight, due to a rather sensationalistic Charlie Rose piece on 60 Minutes, the girl and her family were the subject of an intense backlash that threw the authenticity of the paintings in doubt--and suggested that her father coached her, or really did the paintings himself.

It is a story about so many things--greed, marketing, the nature of modern art, good and bad parenting, responsible and irresponsible journalism, the fickle monster of public opinion, and about 20 other personal agendas and psychodramas splattered together into one messy splotch.

Almost no one in this documentary comes off looking very sympathetic.

Bottom line: are Marla's paintings good?

I think they are beautiful, moving, pure, and joyful.

Did her father probably help her, coach her and maybe even tell her what to paint?

I'm guessing yes. The kid started when she was 2 years old.

Is this a problem?

Er, no. However the paintings got here, they got here, and they're nice. Who cares if it was a collaboration?

Would I pay $25,000 for her paintings?

No. But if I were rich, and had that kind of money to throw around, and--like Eliot Spitzer paying $4,000/hour for sex--it made me feel powerful and generous to spend that kind of money, then yeah I might.

thoughts? (18 comments so far)

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