‘Art’ Barbie pays homage to Klimt, Van Gogh and more

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If Barbie found that ‘math class is tough,’ what will she think of art school? With the recent release of a new set of art-themed dolls, the leggy doll is making a bid for high-culture respectability and perhaps a new moniker, something along the lines of ‘Let’s go to a museum.’

Mattel has just released what it is calling the Barbie ‘Museum Collection,’ which features dolls inspired by works of Gustav Klimt, Vincent van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci. The specialty dolls cost $34.95 each and are recommended for ages 6 and over.

The Klimt doll takes its inspiration from the artist’s most famous portrait, ‘Adele Bloch-Bauer I,’ and features a brunette Barbie dressed in an Egyptian-style gown with curly, parted hair. The Van Gogh doll wears a cocktail dress inspired by ‘The Starry Night’ and the Da Vinci doll is styled after the Mona Lisa -- though much slimmer, of course.

This isn’t Barbie’s first foray into the museum world, technically speaking. Earlier this year, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art acquired the original Barbie in preparation for its fall exhibition, ‘California Design, 1930-1965: ‘Living in a Modern Way.’ ' The museum also has an early Ken doll in its permanent collection.


Barbie has long been the bane of feminists and physicians who believe the dolls set unrealistic body-image standards for young girls. While the latest dolls remain as bone-thin as ever, their career choices have evolved over the years past housewife and shopaholic. Some of Barbie’s recent career incarnations include architect, news anchor and paratrooper.


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-- David Ng