A Beautiful Work Of Art! Painted By A 4-Year Old!
It was one of the biggest stories in the art world a decade ago: beautiful paintings created by a 4 year old – but was it true?
An acclaimed documentary cast doubt on whether Marla Olmstead, the child prodigy profiled in the film actually created the paintings that were attributed to her…
My Kid Could Paint That! – 2007 Director: Amir Bar-Lev
This riveting documentary tells the story of Marla Olmstead, who began painting just before her second birthday in early 2002. According to her father Mark, he originally gave her paint to divert her from distracting him from his own painting – although he did it as a hobby only.
Within two years, the now four year old Marla – from Binghamton New York – became the sensation of the art world for her abstract artwork, which sold for thousands of dollars per piece.
Through it all, Marla’s parents, Mark Olmstead and Laura Olmstead, are shown just wanting what was best for their daughter.
But then, when big name media discovers her, some began to question whether Marla was the real artist behind the work.
The film’s Director has a few moments in the film when he questions what he may have uncovered:
Doc Director Amir Bar-Lev: [when Laura starts crying on camera on being doubted] “I’m sorry that I brought this into your house.”
Laura Olmstead: [bitterly] “It’s documentary gold.”
The paintings are gorgeous – but the movie is gut-wrenching. Who painted them? Marla? Her father? Both of them? Watch the movie and try to make up your own mind. It’s a great documentary that raises alot of questions, and it will break your heart to see what the family goes through as a result of Marla’s fame.
I loved this film, and wondered what Marla was doing a decade later – and I got my answer, thanks to a great update from Press Connects in 2015:
Here is a short excerpt from that “Press Connects” article:
Sitting in the living room of her Binghamton home Marla Olmstead laughs loudly when asked if she considers herself a prodigy. Then she answers with a quick “no.”
“I don’t think of myself in that way at all,” she says.
A decade ago, though, that was the term — along with wunderkind and whiz kid — being thrown about to describe the 4-year-old who became a media darling when her abstract and colorful paintings sold for thousands of dollars.
That’s pretty heady stuff for a toddler with a paint brush and eye for color. But a New York Times profile, television appearances and other notoriety seems to have left little impression on Marla. “I really don’t remember anything,” she says.
This is a great article – while Marla still paints, her parents aren’t selling her work right now and she hasn’t done a major art show in several years…as the article goes on to note:
Art is still a part of Marla’s life. She has completed eight to 10 paintings over the last two years and takes lessons from Alisha Sickler-Brunelli, the sister-in-law of Anthony Brunelli, and is working on more realistic styles and techniques.
Anthony Brunelli says he still gets six to eight inquiries a year about Marla’s work and could have sold some paintings for good amounts of money. But Marla’s parents have vetoed the idea, wishing to keep her out of the spotlight.
Looking back, Brunelli admits to being naïve a decade ago. “I expected interest, but I didn’t expect the firestorm to come,” he says.
A terrific story by Press Connect – see all of it here:
Let me know if you’ve seen this terrific documentary!