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Marla Olmstead

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Title: Marla Olmstead  
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Subject: Olmstead, 2000 births, Abstract expressionist artists, List of child prodigies, Binghamton, New York
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Marla Olmstead

Marla Olmstead
Born 2000 (age 15–16)
Binghamton, New York
Occupation Artist
Parent(s) Laura and Mark Olmstead

Marla Olmstead (born 2000 in Binghamton, New York) is a painter of abstract art who by the age of four had attracted international media attention for her work. Abstract artworks purportedly painted by her have been as large as five feet (1.52 m) square and have sold for tens of thousands of US dollars.[1] A 2005 60 Minutes II story on Olmstead that first brought her publicity led to speculation that the works supposedly created by Marla were in fact created in collaboration with her father,[2] which was further examined in the 2007 documentary on her, My Kid Could Paint That.


  • Background 1
  • Media attention 2
  • Controversy 3
  • Related subjects 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


According to her

  • Official website
  • Harvey, Doug (July 19, 2006). "Prodigy Schmodigy". LA Weekly
  • Fineman, Mia (October 5, 2007). "My Kid Could Paint That: Does Marla Olmstead's work belong in a museum or on the fridge?" Slate
  • Harvey, Doug (October 10, 2007). "Marla vs. Pollock: Who’s the Fraudiest?" LA Weekly
  • Ebert, Roger (November 15, 2007). "Portrait of the artist as a cherished child",

External links

  1. ^ My Kid Could Paint That Director: Amir Bar-Lev, 2007
  2. ^ a b Leung, Rebecca. New Questions About Child Prodigy: Charlie Rose Reports On 4-Year-Old Artist Marla Olmstead, 60 Minutes II, February 23, 2005
  3. ^ a b Child art prodigy wows New York BBC News, 29 September 2004.
  4. ^ York, Michelle (September 28, 2004). "A Portrait Of the Artist As a Young Girl: Early Ability on Abstracts: 4-Year-Old Paints With Flair". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Marla Olmstead: Artist". People The Intersection 2013. Retrieved May 22, 2015. 
  6. ^ Sachs, Andrea (September 6, 2006). "The Downside of Being a Child Prodigy", Time
  7. ^ Caplan, Jeremy. (November 8, 2004) "Pint-Size Picassos". Time


Related subjects

The 2007 documentary My Kid Could Paint That, by director Amir Bar-Lev, examines Marla Olmstead, her family, and the controversy surrounding the art attributed to her. The film does not explicitly take a position on the question of her works' authenticity, but Bar-Lev is heard during his interviews of Marla's parents and in a piece included as an extra on the DVD expressing doubts about whether Marla created the paintings herself. It includes excerpts from start-to-finish videos of two of Marla's works and questions whether the two works, the 60 Minutes painting (known as "Flowers") and "Ocean," are of the same quality as other works attributed to her. After Bar-Lev expressed these doubts and began filming Marla to capture her painting a work of similar quality to paintings previously sold in her name, she is seen repeatedly asking her father to help her paint a face on the painting or paint it himself - the exchange taking place during playful banter between Marla and her father.

In February 2005, a report by CBS News' 60 Minutes II raised questions about whether Marla created the paintings on her own. 60 Minutes enlisted the help of Ellen Winner, a child psychologist who studies cognition in the arts and gifted children. Winner was impressed with Marla's work, and indicated that Marla was the first child prodigy she'd seen paint abstractly. The Olmsteads agreed to permit CBS crews to set up a hidden camera in their home to tape their daughter painting a single piece in five hours over the course of a month. When Winner reviewed the tapes, the psychologist said, "I saw no evidence that she was a child prodigy in painting. I saw a normal, charming, adorable child painting the way preschool children paint, except that she had a coach who kept her going." Winner also indicated that the painting created after CBS's hidden camera looked "less polished than some of Marla's previous works."[2]


The skill demonstrated in the paintings has prompted critics and media to draw comparisons to abstract artists Wassily Kandinsky and Jackson Pollock.[3] Marla has attracted media attention from The New York Times and Time magazine.[6][7]

Her work increased in popularity after her first gallery showing, with many of the paintings selling for tens of thousands of US dollars.

Media attention

In 2013, she gave an interview at the "The Intersection", which is a one-day gathering of innovative thinkers.[5]


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