Is Quirky Art Real Art?



I have this friend who loves to send me emails about art made from idiosyncratic materials. I don’t know if he sends these to everyone on his list, or just because he knows art’s m’ thing, and I’ll get a kick out of them.

I call this “Side Show” art. Like the dog with 3 heads, it fascinates people. And quirky art floats all over the Internet.

Sure… a work of art can be fascinating, but can you equate fascination with a work of art?

Shhh… Marzipan Babies sleeping…

Unknown artist

Unknown artist

Here is the sum total of information that came with a series of 12 images…

These are made with marzipan: sugar, egg whites and almonds, a substance used as a base for icing, or to mold decorative forms.

That’s it — the whole ball of marzipan.

This artwork is flying around the world, literally, and we don’t know the artist’s name, how to contact the artist, if these are for sale — nada!

Does this artist get even one ping! from all of this free promotion?  (Give it your best guess.)

A long-standing controversy: who decides what is real art?

Now I don’t care how snobbish your fine art, artistic persuasion might be, you gotta admit these are compelling on several levels:

  • Kinesthetic resonance — These make me shiver with a odd kind of ecstasy as I look at them.
  • Human identity — Don’t we tend to love that which reminds us of ourselves?
  • Pure skill — The sense that these babies might wake up, or cry, or smile at me is deliciously creepy.
  • Scale — I don’t know if it’s the human power gene or the nurture gene, but something fascinates us when it’s miniature. And fascination gets you points. Maybe not enough for the MOMA, but points nonetheless.

Is this real art?

We could bat around — Is this real art? — for a long time. But what fascinates me is that we have a work of art, but no artist.

I asked my friend, Neil, if he could track down the artist for me, and he could not.

Next Tuesday, we’ll look at more quirky art, only this time the artist has his PR ducks all in a row.

Unknown artist

Unknown artist

Now, you tell me: are these Marzipan Babies “real” art?

8 Responses to “Is Quirky Art Real Art?”

  1. Tara Reed says:

    I say “Yes” it’s real art. Someone thought of it, created it, photographed it. Like beauty, art is in the eye of the beholder. Will everyone want one for their home? No. But that isn’t what art is all about — it’s art, after all, not toilet paper. :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ariane Goodwin says:

    hmmm, yes…never would have thought of the toilet paper angle!

  3. YES YES YES. I don’t know why because I don’t know my ear from my elbow about what is and what is not “real” art. But if the eye of the beholder is the determining factor, then this beholder gives it a resounding yes. Holy moly, dudes.

    I am not now, nor have I ever been, into making art. I don’t know the Art Snob Rules. But I will say that in my (admittedly very humble) opinion, if someone takes an absolutely INSANE amount of time to create something beautiful, well, there’s not much more “art” than that.

    I’m going to sit here and stare at these all day now. :)

  4. Yes, it is ART!!!!

    OK, I did a quick search on Google image for the name of one of the baby art images and found this:

    Marzipan Babies –

    Which stated this info:

    creations of Camille Allen and are actually made of Polymer Clay rather than marzipan. She sells these babies on eBAY and they go for thousands of dollars.

    and someone else added this info…

    Camille Allen:…../index.htm

    and one this site is this:

    NEW website at:

    Now if each art photo had a small watermark image of her URL we would have found her and her art a whole lot quicker and easier.

    Which by the way, she is now doing on her new site.

    Love her baby art work!

  5. Just noticed this at the bottom of one of her site pages (could have be posted with sample images of the items for sale):

    Photo Products are now available!
    Visit online store –

    This is a great idea for artist! You can make more money by selling your artwork as photo images on other items.

    Cafepress in not the only site to consider either. Check out:,, and

    Marketplace for handmade products. Buy and sell housewares, clothing, accessories, artwork, needlecraft, and much more.

  6. Liza says:

    I actually was able to locate this artist. Unfortunately I do not remember her name, however I do know they are not made of marzipan but polymer clay sculpty as I did converse with her. Sorry I do not remember her name. I believe she would be under miniature baby sculptures in the search engine.

  7. Ed Roach says:

    Why this ongoing fixation on what equates art and what doesn’t? Why is it important to determine this? Myself I’m a watercolourist. My tastes go from that to abstract and performance art etc. In our community a few years ago a visiting artist poured Corn Flakes on the lawn of the gallery. For this they received $25,000. A public out cry and this question of what is art was the result.

    I’ve been told many times in regard to abstract, “I could have done that.” Well yes you may be able to copy it, but unless you are an artist, you could never have originated the idea.

    Art for me, fires the imagination. It is the concept of the “original idea.” I don’t have to love it, I only have to appreciate it. Example: graffiti is art. I don’t like the vandalism component, but I do appreciate the talent.

    Everything is art. Appreciate it all.

  8. loz says:


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