Lisa Fittipaldi: Blind Artist?

YTWWN SAYS: This is a pretty big call to make, not against artist using photos as reference but if this post is true, that she claims it was her husbands hand? Also to note she is legally blind which often means they can see somewhat but very poorly… really don’t want to beating up on a blind person just because they may have traced one image….
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Blind artist Lisa Fittipaldi, claims that she became blind in 1993. She has appeared on Oprah and in publications such as People Magazine promoting her paintings. What caused me to question her story was the fact that a painting that she first made public in 2001 looks identical to a photo taken of Angelina Jolie’s hand that was included in an article about the actress in the December 2000 issue of Premiere Magazine. An image of the painting was included in a profile of Ms. Fittipaldi in the October 15, 2001 issue of People Magazine. I have included scans of images from the articles for your perusal. Please note that when both hand images are placed on top of each other, the outlines match up perfectly. It does not seem possible for this to be a mere coincidence.

Angelina Jolie Photo - Lisa Fittipaldi Painting

Left: Angelina Jolie's hand holding an apple. Right: Painting by Lisa Fittipaldi - The artist claims that this is a painting of her husband's hand.

48 comments

  • Interested to see Lisa’s response to this.

  • Bussstteedd…

  • The biggest issue is not using a photo for reference, or even lying and claiming it’s her husband’s hand—it’s LYING ABOUT BEING BLIND (or being the painter). She can either see, or someone else paints for her. Either way, someone is busted.

  • This seems like the makings of a truly great story. I see movie potential in the way this could unfold!

    Also, the moderator above comments above that Fittipaldi is only “legally blind” but I’ve found articles stating that she’s in fact claiming to be “completely blind.” Here’s a quote from The Dallas Morning News, describing her vision:

    ‘And Ms. Fittipaldi is not only legally blind, but “completely” blind. “I see snow, like static on a TV screen,” she says.’

    This comes from Fittipaldi’s own website here:

    http://www.lisafittipaldi.com/dallas_morning_news.htm

  • According to an old description of this painting, Fittipaldi claims that it was a painting of her husband’s hand. Here is the link to that description.

    http://www.lisafittipaldi.com/a_hand.htm

  • Yeah, clearly she works from photos, which would lead me to believe she is legally blind, not completely. She got some attention and then the tail started wagging the dog; before she knew it she was saying things to interviewers to make her situation seem all the more heroic. Many novice artists are afraid to admit they copied a photo (least of all traced it!) and this seems to be one of those cases. Her cause is a good one–help for folks with disabilities–but as soon as you start being misleading about your practices, you lose credibility. I’m kinda surprised no one has ever mention ‘copyright’ to her, in terms of the photos she borrows. I know I’ve seen one of those dancers-in-motion photos before…

  • I could see her forgetting that that wasn’t her husbands hand. If she has a ton of these types of images floating around and most of them are of her husband or friends. Or the interviewer misunderstood her. Or she lied.

    If she’s completely blind she can’t see. Maybe react to the presence of light and that’s it. Legally blind runs the whole gamut of visual ability.

  • Interesting that someone who never painted before going blind would be able to tell what “cobalt blue” looks like just by feel.

  • maria, there is no way you could “forget” something that you were never able to actually see. the angelina pic is from 2000. the artist claims she went blind in 1993.
    what a fraud

  • attacking a blind woman. you people have reached a new low.

  • It’s not ‘attacking’ a blind woman, it’s questioning someone’s honesty with reasonable suspicion.

    New low? I see nothing low about this blog to begin with. There one of the few blogs with a keen eye for protecting the average artist.

  • Now we just wait for fugg u’s retort, surely to be another piece of magical wisdom. Perhaps he’ll return to his classic standard reaction, something like, say:

    ‘well, u can’t copyright a hand, dumbass.’

    How’s about it, fugg u?

  • Ok, I am a Painter and I’m sorry but legally blind, completely blind, or 20/20 vision doesn’t make these paintings any less awful. Not just technique and color but, composition and subject matter. Lack of sight is no excuse for painting trite and generic garbage. But hey, she makes upwards of eleven grand off morons that i assume run the gamut of visual ability. So good for her. She selling this particular turd for $4,000: http://www.gallerysoco.com/item561212.ctlg : Oh my! Indeed.

  • The case on this one can be closed. I have it all figured out.

    Either: A. Her husband propped up the magazine in front of her, so he could sneak out and watch UFC 111 at the bar with his friends

    or B. Based on the bony wrist, she’s married to Angelina Jolie’s brother, who happens to hold apples in the exact same position as her sister, and wears the same ring as her.

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  • SKETCH! SOMEONE POKE HER EYEBALLS OUT JUST TO MAKE SURE….

  • I’ve personally known a handful of blind and legally blind people.

    Legally blind is very different from being completely visually impaired… Normally, it’s extremely bad vision, and some legally blind people can actually use specific glasses, magnifiers, and even magnification programs on their computers. Many of them also snap photos with digital cameras and zoom in to give them some sight of how things are in the moment.

    Full blindness, as it has been explained to me, is not as the “artist” says. It is the absence of vision. It is not black, nor white, nor fuzzy. It is not static. It’s simply not there.

    The woman is a charlatan. Legally blind, maybe, but I’m not sure I even believe her saying that much.

    It is possible, however, to be a blind artist, especially if one paints with thick layers of acrylic or with oil and by scent.

  • I am glad to see that she has been exposed to a wider audience with clear evidence of the exact aligning of the photograph with the painting. Hopefully, Lisa will come clean and admit to this fraud and explain why she found it necessary to fool her clients as well as her fellow artists.

  • Painting or drawing with your eyes closed is bloody impossible ive tried it. If you have really good drawing skills its possible to come up with an unusual drawing style, but it would be messy and all over the place. The idea that you can “compose” and paint a picture fully blind with multiple colours, colour fades and gradients is very hard to swallow.
    If you had someone by your side coaching you it could work but there is know way of coordinating your brush strokes. Each stoke would become miss placed and then make the image very messy indeed.
    Even competent artists have to do tons of corrects as they are drawing. Part of the fun of drawing with your eyes closed is that you make tons of missed placed lines.
    A blind artist work would be all over the shop

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  • maybe, just maybe, at the shoot for those photos, the photographer modeled Jolies hand after the picture/photo of the hand?
    nahh…

  • Maybe she has a third eye

  • Well, there’s one way to settle this. I contacted FHM US, who owns Premiere Magazine, the gallery selling prints of the photos, the artist, and the Oprah Show, directing them here to have a looksie. Honestly, I can’t believe for one second this woman is blind if she painted this copyright infringing piece.

  • I would be very interested to see what YTWWN says, only I can’t decipher it at all. Granted, it’s late and I’m tired, but really…does their bit at the top of this post actually make sense to anyone? If so, please explain it to me.

  • Legally blind, completly blind whatever. If she’s actually not “completly blind” which was stated in a few websites and articles than she probably just says that to get attention to her artwork.

  • As a blind artist with only 2% vision remaining, I cannot defend Ms Fittipaldi because I don’t know enough to judge. But I know that some of you are stupidly critical. Art is subjective. I paint from photos and use anything I can to make my art more realistic. I can’t feel color but I paint what I feel. unless you walk in our shoes, I would like to see you do better. Open your minds and look up Passionate Focus and the Guild for the Blind in Chicago.

  • Bravo, Sightseer!

  • I’m looking at my hand holding an apple. It looks exactly as in the photo (and in the picture)! So, you, bunch of idiots, have proved nothing… Most hands holding an apple look the same (to the wrinkle!)

  • Not buying it

    Mel, ‘you idiot’, does your wrist bone jut out at a weird angle like that too? Does your apple have the exact same bump in the exact same place? What male do you know whose forearm is that skinny? How often do people pose for paintings holding fruit in such an awkward way?

    Lisa Fittipaldi is a liar, one way or another.

  • I am a professional knitter and teacher, living in New Bern N.C. I have recently been approached by Lisa Fittipaldi to teach her knitting. She has informed me that she is writing a book about learning to knit while traveling across America. She is definitely not blind and makes me and my students feel very uncomfortable in her presence, in the words of one student, “I feel she is sucking the life out of me”. We feel she is using us as material for her book and is not being honest about this. I googled her name and came up with this site and now feel even more uncomfortable about the whole situation. I am also an artist and when I mentioned this she did not volunteer that she was an artist although she did inform me she was blind but is now cured.

  • Allan Germaine

    I have known Lisa Fittipaldi for over 12 years. She was first declared legally blind in 1993. After skeptics like you began to defame her as early as 2005, she moved with her husband to Quito Ecuador to escape the torment. After 7 eye surgeries and numerous hospitalizations, she regained the majority of her sight. She has been able to see fairly well since that time. Mrs. Fittipaldi is plagued with a disease called “Churg Strauss Vasculitis, Temporal Arteritis and Wagner’s Disease.” (Look it up!) Her vision comes and goes as does her hearing. Because of people like you, this highly gifted international artist stopped painting in 2004. It is alright to be skeptical of things you do not understand, but to blatantly destroy this person and her personal life because of your naivety and cruelty is unconcionable. It is true that Mrs. Fittipaldi has returned to the U.S. and is currently writing books. But she is also a permanent resident of The Republic of Panama.

    Mrs. Pardee, a prior acquaintance, took Mrs. Fittipaldi into her home in 2009 after Lisa broke her ankle and had undergone 4 rounds of chemotherapy. Ms. Pardee knew that Mrs. Fittipaldi had undergone surgeries to correct her vision.
    She did not profess to be blind and had regained her sight years before. The Fittipaldi’s had cleaned and done maintenance around the Pardee house to repay Ms. Pardee’s kindness. The Fittipaldi’s would have thought better of Ms. Pardee for her venemous attitude.

    People like Stella have apparently read the trash that is being spouted in this blog and believe what they have read. Mrs. Fittipaldi is trying to regain her life without art and the skepticism that has followed her throughout the world. That is why every time the international press conducted an interview with Mrs. Fittipaldi, documentation was requested and provided outlining her visual capacity. During her period of artistic endeavor, Mrs. Fittipaldi was often blindfolded by film crews to reinforce her artistic capacity. The hand in question was painted in front of a BBC film crew, it does not matter whose hand it seems to resemble. It is original art!

    People in this blog have accused Mrs. Fittipaldi of misstating her condition in the press. If you people honestly believe that the press does not modify or change statements that people make for the betterment of the press release, then I feel sorry for you. The press has the tendency to sensationalize a story for the betterment of the read. Mrs. Fittipaldi has tried for many years to avoid the press and their misrepresentations. This is why she stopped giving interviews.
    If you don’t think an artist can tell color by touch, look up Roy Abraham.

    Both sightseer and mel are correct. It is narrow minded people who think that someone who is visually impaired, hearing impaired, physically disabled or recovering from a stroke cannot lead a full and balanced life. It is a testament to all those 44,000,000 Americans with disabilities who have learned to ignore petty people who have nothing better to do than criticize those who are doing more than just surviving. I wonder how you would all treat Claude Monet, Jacob Bolotin, Sidney Bradford, Esref Armagan, Tony Max, Galileo, Le Duy Ung, Kurt Weston, John Bramblitt, Goya, Joshua Reynolds just to name a few. Is VanGogh’s art less significant because he was colorblind?

    So the debate will probably continue. There will always be skeptics and believers. But in the process of debate, remember Beethoven would probably have stopped composing if he read the callous ignorance that has been desseminated in this blog.

  • You’re trying to turn this around to suggest that a skeptical reaction is wholly due to people having some sort of strange dislike of the disabled or an inability to believe that people can overcome or manage disabilities. This is an odd claim to make. I think people today are very well aware of all that one can accomplish even without sight, without hearing, with limited mobility, etc, etc.

    You’re mistaking the issue as being a dispute of what blind people or people in such situations can or cannot achieve, it has nothing to do with that. People know of Beethoven and they know of paraplegic mountain climbers, such achievements are familiar to most today. The issue here, really, is this, summed up as plainly as can be:

    You have here a person who claims to have gone “completely” blind in 1993, who bills herself as “The Blind Artist,” and yet somehow ends up painting an exact copy of a photo that came out in 2000. If she painted this picture, then she saw this photo, and if she saw this photo then she’s not truly blind.

    I don’t mean to be rude or insulting, but I think the skepticism is really quite understandable and needs no be viewed with the thought that people are out to “defame” Fittipaldi. You say, “People like Stella have apparently read the trash that is being spouted in this blog and believe what they have read.” I don’t think it needs any outside comment, that’s not what’s swaying people, one needs only to look at the pictures and they see that something doesn’t seem right here…

    You try to downplay this by saying it “resembles” the hand, but it doesn’t just resemble it, it’s clearly been painted by someone looking at the photo. The exact same angle, the same finger placement, the same folds in the skin down to the smallest detail, the ring, the apple shape, everything…

    Again, I don’t think anyone means to be insulting, but it just doesn’t click that a person claiming to be “completely” blind, who markets herself as “The Blind Artist,” is somehow painting exact copies of photos her condition wouldn’t allow her to see.

    “The press has the tendency to sensationalize a story for the betterment of the read. Mrs. Fittipaldi has tried for many years to avoid the press and their misrepresentations.”

    The quotes so far have been from articles on Fittipaldi’s own site… If you don’t like the press articles though, here let’s quote from her biography, which she co-credits herself as writing ( http://www.lisafittipaldi.com/art_baby_art.htm ):

    “She recalls, “Just because I cannot see anything significant (she has lost her ability to see such basics as distance, print, color or dimension) should not disqualify me from exploring life.”"

    “The majority of her patrons did not realize that Lisa Fittipaldi has never seen her own artwork.”

    She’s clearly describing her vision as being such that she can’t see her own work. What sense does it make then that she ends up producing a painting that is undeniably taken from a photo in a magazine? What sense does it make that she can’t see her own work but can see a photo in a magazine down to the smallest wrinkle? At the heart of it, that’s what people are having trouble overcoming and that’s what you’ve failed to answer.

  • Allan Germaine

    All well and good Leonard, but you failed to read that the rather large painting is not really the same size as a photo in a magazine, it is similar but not exact and it was painted live in front of a BBC film crew. Does that answer your question? Your skeptacism is understandable, but give it a rest. The woman has not painted for many years and is trying to place all this garbage behind her.

  • Still not buying it

    Ditto Leonard O. Well put.

    The size of the painting has absolutely nothing to do with anything. Even if she painted it in front of a film crew, she supposedly has a photographic memory, thus she painted it from her memory of seeing the photo. AFTER she “went blind.”

    The “garbage” she’s trying to place behind her? Her own doing. Because she’s a liar.

  • Yes, I do not understand why you feel the size somehow nullifies the matter, that’s a baffling defense. As well, the measurements for the painting are given here:

    http://www.lisafittipaldi.com/a_hand.htm

    You say it’s “rather large”? The largest size is just 20 inches (50cm).

    That same page also notes: “The painting was featured on ABC television.” If they thought it was so special to note that it appeared on an ABC program, I would think they’d also see fit to note that it was, as you keep insisting, painted in front of a BBC film crew.

    I think I am coming off somewhat combative here but that is not my intention, I just find this whole thing a curious situation and am interested in finding an answer to what’s going on here. You also seem to want to answer these questions, to silence the debate, and so I feel I’m not out of order in responding to your claims.

    You keep saying that it was filmed by the BBC but I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that’s it not available for anyone to see in any form, right? If that’s the case, no, that doesn’t help and it doesn’t my question. That means as much to me as the following sentence would mean to you: “I have a video where Fittipaldi admits that she painted the picture based on the photo.” Such a claim doesn’t really do a thing for you, does it? Well, just the same, your story about the BBC doesn’t do anything for me either…

    Also, you claim she wants to put her painting behind her, and now sees it as “garbage,” but that’s rather at odds with her site and the various listings I see advertising her paintings for sale.

  • Interesting discussion the old masters learned by copying from each other and by finishing each others paintings….painting anything whether you have full sight, computer enhancement use of all your faculties is very difficult …. Do you think that it doesn’t require any talent? I have a sister who is blind and she is slammed all the time for either faking it because she looks normal and she can recreate anything I describe to her in precise realism… Think about that, she is so well adapted that she has been accused of using her blindness to gain sympathy.
    The personal attacks on this woman sound like petty jealousy and the rantings of two evil women who have little going on in their lives. I think the issue should be do you like what she produced? Is she profiting from it now? Apparently not, did she have talent or was she like the elephants who are trained to paint?

    .

  • I reread her website, there aren’t any paintings for sale on it. Old you tube videos show her painting and discussing the art….she has a book about it on the Internet has anyone read it!

  • She’s still selling original painting and prints through here, this appears to be her representative:

    http://www.gallerysoco.com/

    I’ve also searched YouTube and I don’t see these videos of “her painting and discussing the art” that you mention. I see only one video mentioning her and that’s just person talking about blind artists in general.

    To be absolutely clear though, I’m not saying she can’t paint or that she didn’t paint this, I’m saying that for her to have painted this particular picture she had to have seen the photo and if she saw the photo then she wasn’t blind at the time. To talk of your sister then, and Old Masters, it doesn’t do anything to answer the matter at hand.

    You continue trying to turn this around, now saying that it’s a matter of “petty jealousy” or “evil women,” but it is, as I said, very simple: just look at the pictures and explain how that could be.

    To the matter of these “jealousies” though, it is perhaps telling and relevant to this particular matter that two people have come forth, months apart, with separate stories of suspicious behaviour on Fittipaldi’s part, and questions as to her honesty, and then that you then have someone close to Fittipaldi (if not Fittipaldi herself…) confirming that she is familiar with both people.

  • Twenty years ago I purchased a photorealistic painting from a California blind artist for $600. He said the inspiration of three women standing on a hill came from his recall of his sisters. With the painting came the authenticating paperwork of originality and blindness and the artists written interpretation of the work. Six years later I loaned the painting to a museum show which was showcasing artists with disabilities of all types…and the curator discovered the painting was almost an exact replica of a National Geographic photo. We approached the artist on the matter and he was mortified, not for the copying or fraud aspect, because he was blind he could not verify his images, but for the freak aspect. He offered to return the money but I refused. Three days later he committed suicide. A week later I received a letter and a check in the mail for the painting both written by him stating that he couldnt live with himself as a “freak, that being blind was bad enough”. I put the painting up for auction with a California auction house and they displayed the painting and the photo side by side in the catalog The painting sold for $22,000. It was outstanding for a sighted artist let alone a blind one…to this day I still feel ashamed for my actions.

  • Oh, wow, man, it’s like a story that can be applied to this exact situation, with the final message being: don’t question Fittipaldi or she’ll take her own life and you’ll forever be ashamed and also don’t forget to buy her paintings because even if they resemble photos that will somehow only increase their value in the end…

    For a story that you say took place in 1996 or so, and also for a story that presents as a great mystery of the variety people love to document, surely there’s at least one sentence referencing it online, no?

    It is really a wonderfully interesting story you’ve told, I tell you… To think that just three days after hearing his picture resembled an existing photo he took his own life! He didn’t question how it could be or whether the similarities were as great as he was being told, he didn’t look into whether his vision was better than he had thought, he just decided ‘I must be some crazy freak mutant, I can’t continue living!’

    Also, $22,000, today as then, is a large sum for even an established/noted artist. So for you to then say you sold this painting for such a figure is really quite something.

  • You are a wonderful human being
    Thank you for the nice article

  • Thank you for your article is wonderful..

  • Thank you for your article is wonderful.

  • Uma Maheswar Nakka

    Dear Allan Germaine

    Good Morning.

    Thanks for posting this very valuable information that would clear the minds of all those who wrote rubbish on her.

    God bless you and your family.

    My blessings to you and your family.
    Uma Maheswar Nakka from Bangalore, India.

  • I’ve seen a number of artists who make a big deal about being “blind”, and letting their audience assume they are completely blind, which is what most people would think when told that. They are not totaly blind, they are vision impaired. But they over-do the “I am blind” thing to try to add to their sales. I just wish someone would test this, easy enough– put on these totally black glasses, or let me just hold this piece of cardboard up between you and the art you are making. If you are, as you say, “blind”, what difference would it make? Most of these would fall quickly. Just saying…

  • Legally blind is still a huge handicap. Without experiencing this yourself you cannot possibly understand how difficult it is to deal with. Just because she may have some degree of vision left does not mean painting is easy for her. If you don’t like her art then don’t buy it but don’t judge her from a sighted world. I know – I am legally blind as well.

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