Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

19 November 2007

My Kid Could Paint That

Amir Bar-Lev's documentary My Kid Could Paint That is a film about a four-year-old who paints abstract art and whose paintings sell for thousands of dollars. The movie starts out like a human interest story, but what it becomes after an hour or so is an intriguing meta-film about making stories and making art.

The whole thing is complicated, of course. What is the value of abstract art, anyway? What does it mean? Does it mean anything at all? And if a child can do it, what is its value? Why would I pay millions for something a child can do?

Bar-Lev interviews art critics and art collectors. One art critic in particular really has his pulse on the meaning of art, and the film, for a while is a meditation on art in the abstract and modernism in general.

Then the filmmaker becomes a part of the movie. The story becomes about telling the story: how we fashion stories and how we make art out of documents. My Kid Could Paint That is a story about a family--this little girl and her parents--but it is also a story about the writing of history, what we choose to tell people, the narratives we're accustomed to, the dramatic tropes we look for when we tell stories, and the things we leave out. Storytelling, Bar-Lev comes to understand, is in a lot of ways a lie.

This one is a definite renter. Not to be missed.