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11 Year-Old “Artist” and Art Basel

Paintings by an 11 year-old boy are apparently creating a bit of buzz at an art fair near Art Basel in Miami:

Wealthy collectors and famous international artists are descending on the Miami Beach convention center this week for the Art Basel show; but a young, largely unknown artist from Woodland Hills is kicking up some dust of his own nearby, in the city’s Wynwood Art District.

Charles Gitnick, 11, is showing and selling his “3-D gun art” this week at the satellite art event, the Red Dot Art Fair. Gitnick’s Jackson Pollock-inspired abstracts, which feature embedded plastic guns camouflaged by brightly colored paint, have sold over the past few years in L.A. and New York for anywhere from $100 to $2,500 apiece.

But the sixth-grader says it’s not the money that’s important to him, but the message — that gun violence is terrifying to him and he wishes guns would remain in art galleries alone rather than on the streets.

He’s been approached this week by gallerists in Miami, New York and Los Angeles to develop upcoming shows, he says.

The boy’s dad tells us how serious his son’s work is: “My child is sort of screaming through his art the fear about being a child in our society…We need to watch the art of our youth and see what it tells us about the world we are giving them to grow up in. I think his message is you’re scaring me.”

(Pictures of paintings and artist’s statement here.)

Am I the only one who finds it incredibly sad that a father would allow his son to use his innocence mixed with gimmick and politics–and let’s be honest here, it is because these works are by a child and about gun violence that folks are paying thousands of dollars for them, not because of the craft or skill involved–to make money or to advance a political cause?

I’m all for parents supporting their children in their passions, but this smells more like opportunism than support. Or am I missing something?

about the author

Micah Mattix is the literary editor of The American Conservative and an associate professor of English at Regent University.  His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Pleiades, The Washington Times, and many other publications. His latest book is The Soul Is a Stranger in this World: Essays on Poets and Poetry (Cascade). Follow him on Twitter.

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