THE well-heeled battalions of Hollywood art lovers who splash out thousands of dollars on paintings and sculptures to decorate their homes have been joined by a new collector. She is Imogen Shearmur, aged four.
On the walls of Imogen’s bedroom and playroom at the Los Angeles home of her film industry parents hang more than a dozen works of fine art that cost up to $20,000 each. Ed Shearmur, a film composer, and his wife Alli, a Paramount Studios executive, are among a growing number of parents in America who are turning their backs on traditional infant decor and investing in serious art.
Driven by a belief that their children will benefit from early exposure to “proper” art, parents like the Shearmurs have called in professional decorators and art consultants to help to turn bedrooms and playrooms into sumptuously appointed mini art galleries that many adults would envy.
…Hollywood art galleries have been quick to take note of the new market for child-friendly art and several owners are reporting increasing sales to parents buying for toddlers aged under five.
….The trend is a logical extension of a long-standing effort by US museums and art galleries to make their work more accessible to children. At the Museum of Modern Art in New York, experts offer “Tours for Fours”, in which four-year-olds are encouraged to describe some of the museum’s best-known works.
….Child psychologists generally agree that children benefit from early exposure to good art, although most also point out that the attention span of toddlers is limited. A $20,000 painting on a playroom wall may receive no more than a cursory glance before little Jimmy starts doing his own painting on the expensive wallpaper.
…Critics have suggested that the new trend owes more to parents’ desire to eradicate childhood clutter from the minimalist decor of their multi- million-dollar homes, and that the toddlers of wealthy aesthetes are being raised without knowing the joys and comforts of a Spongebob SquarePants duvet or a picture of Buzz Lightyear on the wall.
“Oh, I think the kids appreciate it,” said Hall. “I don’t think they naturally want that cartoon stuff at all. I think that’s actually unnatural, based on what they saw on TV.”
Hall said her clients were not trying to “banish the idea of childhood . . . it’s not like they want their kids to grow up too fast. But they want something in the children’s rooms that gels with the rest of the home”