Ketchup Art Prank

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Filed under: Hype, Spin

Art? My little boy could have painted that…
by Sanchez Manning
Hampstead and Highgate Express
December 6, 2007

Painting by Freddie W. R. LinskyA Toddler with a nice line in tomato ketchup paintings has duped the art world into buying his work online.

Two-year-old Freddie Linsky’s artistic creations were posted by his mother Estelle Lovatt on the online gallery and had respected art critics swooning.

Ms Lovatt, a freelance art critic and lecturer at the Hampstead School of Art in Kidderpore Avenue, added over-the-top descriptions to her son’s pieces.

One of Freddie’s paintings made up of red and green splodges called Sunrise is captioned: “A bold use of colour inspired by Monet’s plein air habit of painting, drawing on the natural world that surrounds us.”

She also wrote: “Freddie W. R. Linsky paints over and over, making us curious to know what is going on.

“It seems that one stroke is being repeated – the same stroke or one very close to it, hence the possibility of the infinite opening up of the structure of time.”

It began as a prank. But when buyers from all over the world started snapping up little Freddie’s artwork, Ms Lovatt kept up the pretence.

A collector from Manchester paid £20 for Freddie’s painting entitled The Best Loved Elephant and a gallery in Berlin wants to exhibit his work.

“I wondered whether the art world would be encouraging or dismissive if I showed his work on Saatchi Online,” she said.

“It was all meant to be tongue in cheek and I thought people would figure it out.”

Freddie started out on his career in the same way as many other budding young artists.

“He started painting because like any other toddler he was interested in making a mess,” said Ms Lovatt.

“He was exposed to art and paint because as an art critic I took him with me to galleries and exhibitions.

“As soon as he was able to sit up and hold things in his hand he began messing around with paint.

“He has progressed from ketchup to acrylics on paper or canvas.”

Ms Lovatt truly believes that her son’s work shows rare promise.

She said: “He is learning about colours, which is important, and about expressing himself.

“But having seen so much art myself and knowing as a critic what is good, I believe he is a natural.

“If he wants to carry on painting I will encourage him.

“But if he just wants to watch his Mary Poppins DVD that’s fine too.”