See this adorable little kid? Could you imagine she’d be in the midst of an art world controversy? That’s just part of the new documentary by Amir Bar-Lev, My Kid Could Paint That, a 2007 Sundance hit that opens this month.
We love movies about fraud. After repeated viewings, Shattered Glass has become one of my favorite films of the last decade. But what to make of a scam story when there’s a small child involved?
Cute little Marla Olmstead began painting in Binghamton, NY at age 2. At age 3, she made her first sale, from a showing at a coffee shop. By age 4, she was a full-fledged phenomenon, featured in the New York Times and the focus of the film that became My Kid Could Paint That.
She was touted as a genius — her work compared to Pollock and Kandinsky — but there was something simmering under the surface. Her parents were criticized for allowing the little tyke so much exposure, and many wondered whether modern abstract art was a complete farce if a preschooler could do it. Then, the real trouble came.
By her fifth birthday, after over $300,000 in sales, Marla’s efforts came into question. Everyone from art critics to 60 Minutes wondered if she had received help with her paintings, or worse, if her father had created them.
QUESTION: What do you think of Marla’s story, her work, her parents?TELL US
My Kid Could Paint That opens in NY and LA October 5, and goes wider later in October.