Skip

Welcome for you to come to my space - hurrah!
June 9, 2011 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Artist Aelita Andre might only be four years old, but that has not stopped her opening her first art exhibition in New York. 'She is said to be the youngest ever professional artist with nine of her paintings on show at the Agora Gallery, in Manhattan, already selling, with pieces priced up to $9,900 (£6,000) each. Angela Di Bello, the director at the gallery, said Aelita had already developed a style of her own.' 'Is a 4-year-old Australian the 'next Picasso'?'

But this is not Aelita Andre's first brush with fame. She started early, as a toddler of two, not without controversy. She has a website, and has already been featured on 60 minutes at 24 months old.
posted by VikingSword (95 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I prefer her early stuff.
posted by Trurl at 12:50 PM on June 9, 2011 [24 favorites]


Poor girl.
posted by Jairus at 12:51 PM on June 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Listened to this story on CBC1 the other morning and well.....I'm not saying a four-year-old couldn't create meaningful art, but the meaning of it is strictly with those viewing it, not the creator. Admittedly, I can't remember what I was like at four, but I am pretty sure I wasn't doing any intense thinking.
posted by Kitteh at 12:52 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Picasso, eh? At four I was still in my Jackson Pollock stage.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:55 PM on June 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I do not predict a happy ending to this story.
posted by tommasz at 12:55 PM on June 9, 2011


See also: Marla Olmstead.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:58 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Art is about craft and content. Ignoring the fact that most people train and practice their craft for longer than this girl has been alive, what content can a 4 year old possibly bring to painting - a medium who's history goes back to the beginning of humanity - that would be ground breaking or even mildly relevant to anything?

Picasso changed the course of human history, this girl has parents willing to hustle her "prodigy" status relentlessly.
posted by bradbane at 12:58 PM on June 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Let's stop talking about her and start talking about the remarkable marketing and networking abilities of her parents.
posted by solmyjuice at 12:58 PM on June 9, 2011 [23 favorites]


Is a 4-year-old Australian the 'next Picasso'?

Confirms the theory that the answer to every headline phrased as a question is no.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:58 PM on June 9, 2011 [32 favorites]


capitalism will consume just about everything.
posted by Shit Parade at 12:58 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


God. Some people just totally should not be parents, ever. Poor kid.
posted by Hickeystudio at 12:59 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


My four year-old could do that.
posted by The Bellman at 1:00 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


So to keep the paycheck, will the parents force her to keep doing blobs, or will they let her start drawing big-headed people and all those other things that are signs of normal child development?
posted by mittens at 1:01 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Her parents, Nikka Kalashnikova and Michael Andre, who are also artists, both agree that their daughter's art has an innocence to it.

You mean she's not doing her version of Piss Christ yet? ;)

Seriously though, i really, really hate stories like this. All it does is reinforce the stereotype that 'my kid could have done that'.

This really sums it up having been said by the above poster:

the remarkable marketing and networking abilities of her parents.

Also, in my not so humble opinion, that is some ugly ass art. :P
posted by usagizero at 1:01 PM on June 9, 2011


I have a portion of my son's bedroom wall and a chunk of the door for sale, MeMail me if you're interested. Bidding starts at $5,000.
posted by IanMorr at 1:01 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


> I do not predict a happy ending to this story.

oh, she'll still be painting as an incontinent geriatric. different medium, sure.
posted by de at 1:02 PM on June 9, 2011


Aelita Andre and Jordy were spotted getting stone-cold blitzed on apple juice at an exlcusive Chuck E. Cheese afterparty. Hot new power couple or just another sandbox fling? Next on TMZ.
posted by griphus at 1:02 PM on June 9, 2011


My thinks that what's art about this is the degree to which it challenges your conception of what's art.
posted by found missing at 1:03 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cue Maddox?
posted by antifuse at 1:04 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Someone has finally successfully capitalized on those folks who walk into museums/galleries, look at the art and say "That looks like it was done by a 4 year old."

Good for them.
posted by empatterson at 1:04 PM on June 9, 2011


Listened to this story on CBC1 the other morning and well.....I'm not saying a four-year-old couldn't create meaningful art, but the meaning of it is strictly with those viewing it, not the creator. Admittedly, I can't remember what I was like at four, but I am pretty sure I wasn't doing any intense thinking.

I'm not sure if you think painting should have meaning. But that's what you seem to be implying. And I think that's strange, as I mostly enjoy paintings like I enjoy tangerines. Does a tangerine have meaning, in the sense that I think you mean? Maybe not, but tangerines are delicious, and so are paintings.

Yeah, maybe she'll have a sad life. Maybe her parents are shysters. But these seem like fine paintings. Lots of that good wiry nervous energy. They remind me of some de Koonings. I'd love to see them in person.
posted by gimpel at 1:04 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why the reflexive hatred of the girl's parents? Sounds like she was already painting, they just worked out a way to get dollars off it.

"I had a gallery show too early" doesn't seem like childhood-ruining stuff.
posted by LogicalDash at 1:06 PM on June 9, 2011


All it does is reinforce the stereotype that 'my kid could have done that'.

While presenting a rebuttal: OK, you think your kid can do this? There's this gallery in NYC that might be interested...
posted by LogicalDash at 1:08 PM on June 9, 2011


Is this topic on repeat or something? I swear this story (or one that sounds very like it) seems to pop up once every year or so on the web.

Seriously why do we care about this I don't even
posted by jnrussell at 1:09 PM on June 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Agora is the kind of Manhattan gallery where anybody can get an "exhibition", provided you pay the fee. You can do so conveniently at their website.
posted by monospace at 1:10 PM on June 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


Art is about craft and content. Ignoring the fact that most people train and practice their craft for longer than this girl has been alive, what content can a 4 year old possibly bring to painting - a medium who's history goes back to the beginning of humanity - that would be ground breaking or even mildly relevant to anything?

I'm probably reading you wrong, but are you saying that a piece of art needs to be groundbreaking (or even 'relevant') in order to be interesting or pretty or neat? That sounds exhausting.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:12 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a working theory that for art to be 'worthwhile' to me (whatever 'worthwhile' means), and no matter the art form, it has to have two of three things:
1. Talent / Imagination
B. Skill
iii) Effort.

Just a working theory, mind you, but early results are promising. One of the three doesn't cut it.

Sorry, kid.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:13 PM on June 9, 2011


Poor kid when she gets old enough to know what is going on around her. Nice that parents let her paint as much as she wants and she loves it, not nice that they are exploiting her.
posted by mermayd at 1:13 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"One art, please!"


posted by killdevil at 1:15 PM on June 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


bradbane: "Art is about craft and content. Ignoring the fact that most people train and practice their craft for longer than this girl has been alive, what content can a 4 year old possibly bring to painting - a medium who's history goes back to the beginning of humanity - that would be ground breaking or even mildly relevant to anything? "

Any statement that begins with "art is about..." only serves to indicate that the speaker doesn't really know what art is about. I can think of plenty of pieces of art that aren't about craft, or "content" (whatever that even means).

A lot of artists train all their lives to return to an expressive state that children are born with. No baggage, just creation.

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." -Pablo Picasso
posted by danny the boy at 1:16 PM on June 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm in favor of monetizing children.
posted by found missing at 1:16 PM on June 9, 2011


<waves Tricky Dick Fun Bill>
posted by killdevil at 1:16 PM on June 9, 2011


Also see:
Elephants painting
Chimps painting
posted by Omon Ra at 1:16 PM on June 9, 2011


Also see:
Damien Hirst

It doesn't take a lot to be called a genius artist.
posted by Omon Ra at 1:18 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm fine with what her parents are doing, but I feel a bit boorish for not even remotely understanding what all the fuss is about with her work. That first video in the BBC link - with all the art critics expressing their admiration for her "consistency" and how innocent she is of the trappings of art history - plays note-for-note like a mockumentary of the art world. And hey, I like abstract art.

I recently saw the documentary Marwencol (highly recommended!) and it's the exact opposite - someone who is more or less innocent of art movements, and yet creates work that is just utterly sublime, emotional and resonant.
posted by naju at 1:18 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]



Is this topic on repeat or something? I swear this story (or one that sounds very like it) seems to pop up once every year or so on the web.


The last time I saw the "precocious girl artist" thing come up, it was someone who was thought to be a fraud--or, rather, her dad (an artist who wasn't that successful) was the fraud, creating paintings that were then passed off as hers, and offering for "proof" that she'd done it a short video of her smearing paint on an already-mostly-completed painting. It may or may not be this kid.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:19 PM on June 9, 2011


I think her stuff looks pretty good. I'm guessing that the parents provide some editorial direction.

There's a famous joke somewhere about an high-school art teacher questioning a kindergarten art teacher why the kindergartners' abstract art looks so much better than the high schoolers'. The response: "I tell them when to stop."

It doesn't take a lot to be called a genius artist.

I ♥ Damien Hirst. (And Jeff Koons.)
posted by mrgrimm at 1:20 PM on June 9, 2011


what content can a 4 year old possibly bring to painting - a medium who's history goes back to the beginning of humanity - that would be ground breaking or even mildly relevant to anything?

Good lord, that's a depressing school of thought. What does any of us have to offer? Something, I think.

(Also, "whose." I make that typo/error a lot myself, so I notice it.)
posted by mrgrimm at 1:21 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]




> Art is about craft and content.

How is the content distinct from the craft?

Put another way, if I create a painting by accidentally knocking over some paint onto a canvas, and it looks exactly like the painting you create after escaping from twenty years of suffering under the boot of Grand Marshall Zorgo, he who pillaged your country, killed your parents, and enslaved your siblings, is your identical-to-the-eye finished work more valuable than mine?
posted by darth_tedious at 1:23 PM on June 9, 2011


Abstract art? I'm supposed to be impressed by a 4-year-old abstract artist? Please.

Show me a 4-year-old Malcolm Gladwell and then I'll be impressed.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:24 PM on June 9, 2011


On second thought, I'm probably thinking of Marla Olmstead (previously); I'm not seeing any actual evidence that Akiane Kramarik might have had someone else do her paintings, although there's a lot of argument to that effect on the Wikipedia discussion page for her.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:25 PM on June 9, 2011


I remembered asking my kids' second-grade teacher: 'Why are all your students geniuses? Look at the first grade - blotches of green and black. The third grade - camouflage. But your grade, the second grade, Matisses, every one. You've made my child a Matisse. Let me study with you. Let me into the second grade. What is your secret?' 'I don't have any secret. I just know when to take their drawings away from them.'

-Six Degrees of Separation
posted by eunoia at 1:26 PM on June 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


You know I think it's really funny that whenever one of these stories comes around and everyone on the internet gets out their I Know From Art hats and says 'This kid ain't no Picasso!' it reminds me that back when Picasso was Picasso people were tripping over one another to shit on his work and say that it wasn't art, and I Know From Art.

Is this kid the next Picasso? Yes. Picasso pissed off people who knew better than him, too.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:27 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


To me, the art is not the physical piece. The art only occurs for a very brief moment when some overly rich dumbass drops $10k on one of the pieces. It's a fleetingly short moment in time, and few will ever see it.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:27 PM on June 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Maybe this little girl really loves to paint? Painting is fun! All little kids (and elephants) love to do it!

I mean yeah her parents no doubt had a lot of input early on, and you can see where she was trying to paint something concrete like a dog or a butterfly and it comes out more like a blob. Normal parents would have tried to get her to draw more realistically, her artist parents instead encouraged her to be more abstract and to focus more on the balance of colors. This was the result.

I like these paintings, they're fun to look at. She's got a good eye. They're creatively titled - kidspeak through a smart adult filter. Some little kids are really smart and quite perceptive. I'm not convinced this story will end in tragedy.
posted by subdee at 1:37 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I also think we should be dismissive of children who act professionally, or sing professionally, or any other form of professional artistic expression, because only adults can do any of it meaningful, and any time a child does it it just shows what a hoax the adults are.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:46 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some of her pieces are interesting and appealing to me, and some are just the scribblings of a four year old. None are worth $30,000, and the fact that they're actually selling for those ridiculous prices just illustrates what's very very wrong with the art world.
posted by rocket88 at 1:47 PM on June 9, 2011


They're asking $30,000. Have we seen any evidence that they're actually making $30,000?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:51 PM on June 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


What's wrong with the art world is that art is worth exactly what people are willing to pay for it.
posted by found missing at 1:51 PM on June 9, 2011


What's wrong with the art world is that people form their opinions on the art world based on sensationalist headlines on blogs.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:53 PM on June 9, 2011


Picasso (about children's art) "When I was their age, I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them."

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:56 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Agora Gallery provides comprehensive promotional and exhibition services; artists who accept representation are required to pay a representation fee for the advertising and promotional services provided by the Gallery.

This is on top of the 30% commission on sales. How common is this?

Anyway, I think it is kind of neat, Even if her parents are paying the gallery. will look good on her kindergarten applications.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:56 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Breaking: from the deparment of Are You Freaking Kidding Me.

I'd be okay with the insular freak show of the 'top' art market if they weren't continually trying to pawn off the works of 'lesser known' artists to other people at still rediculous prices (under the gaze of 'investments') to fund the circus at large. There was an FPP about it, maybe two years ago?
posted by Slackermagee at 1:56 PM on June 9, 2011


Those are pretty big canvasses and the paint is on there pretty thick. Unless that's house-paint those could cost hundreds or thousands each just in materials.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:57 PM on June 9, 2011


Also tired of people who try to convince me that this kind of thing is 'the future of art! Its purest form! Drivel blather contradicting-what-I-just-said-about-individual-taste mummery!'.

I'll take some impressionism with a helping Gentileschi on the side, thanks.
posted by Slackermagee at 1:59 PM on June 9, 2011


Agora Gallery provides comprehensive promotional and exhibition services; artists who accept representation are required to pay a representation fee for the advertising and promotional services provided by the Gallery.

This is on top of the 30% commission on sales. How common is this?



Marketing Mondays: The Vanity Gallery
posted by R. Mutt at 2:00 PM on June 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Call me when she gets a girlfriend who is 25 years younger. Then she can be the next Picasso.
posted by chavenet at 2:00 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd hang one of her works together with one of these paintings by an elephant. Seriously.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:00 PM on June 9, 2011


Perhaps it would be helpful to establish at what age someone who produces "artwork" can legitimately be called an artist. Is it 21 - drinking age in the U.S.? 18 - voting age? 16 - age of sexual consent in most U.S. states? You can be carded when buying alcohol - perhaps you then can be carded at an art exhibition - say, "oops, still one day left till your 14th birthday, you are not an artists, please take these paintings down!". And so on. Maybe we can discern the line at exactly 13 years and 223 days on this earth?

So what about that little shit Mozart and his compositions at 5? Massive internet scorn?

Or perhaps, we should all relax and simply evaluate the work, with aesthetic response as our only guide? You may like the work of a 10 year old, and despise the work of a respected 50 year old artist. But so what? Ultimately, it's about your aesthetic pleasure, isn't it? If you enjoy a 4-year old's paintings - so what? What if we removed the age of the artist or any other context of the work and just hung the pieces in a gallery - how would you like it then? Would you like it more if we appended the signature of Picasso/Mondrian/Klee/Bacon/XXXX? You like it, you hate it - does it matter who makes it?
posted by VikingSword at 2:01 PM on June 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Her pictures are actually kind of pretty, but I've heard that most toddlers have a good eye for composition, which they lose after they start drawing big headed family pictures and stuff.
posted by delmoi at 2:08 PM on June 9, 2011


Years ago, there was this weekly TV-show in a circus building. So the show was a circus. One week, they brought in three paintings, one worth €300 (painted by a popular zoo monkey), the next worth €30.000 (painted by a local minor abstract expressionist), and the third was worth €3.000.000 (a major work by an important international abstract painter). The idea was that the audience had to guess which was which. The votes came out almost exactly equal. But my friends and I, who are interested in art, but not in abstract painting, easily guessed what was what and even who the artists were.

For the majority of people in the audience, it would be totally fine to buy the monkey-painting if they liked it and didn't pay too much for it. Except if someone fooled them into believing that monkey would be the first non-human Picasso and their investment would pay back in the millions.
The thing is, exactly the same goes for the second painting. It's fine. If you like it, buy it, and there will be enough other people who like it that you won't be robbed. But that artist will never be "Picasso" either. Don't pay too much and don't think you are investing.
He has spent Maxwell's 10000 hours working hard towards his goal, and he is a good painter. But he hasn't got the stuff that makes him rise above good.
The third painting is it's money worth and will continue to be so. And you could have made a lot of money if you had had the guts to buy something off this guy when he was young and a starving artist. But everyone in that audience, who couldn't tell the difference, would have seen his work as disgusting. Not as "something my four-year old could have made", that was back in the Picasso days, but as disgusting. The third painter has both used 10000 hours practicing and learning and tried to use art as a source of knowledge. And for his generation, "disgusting" was a more interesting challenge than "primitive art" and "child's art". For the current generation, other issues are relevant.

From my point of view, the parents here and the middle guy in the circus are playing with people's image of art. If you like the painting it's fine with me - that is not my issue. If you think this girl is the new Picasso - please listen: she is not. If she was, she wouldn't be there as a four year old working for money.

Picasso wasn't a great painter at 16, but he knew more about painting than most 16-year olds. Mozart's early compositions aren't special. Both kids were taught and even pressured by their parents. But they weren't forced to deliver a specific product at age 4. They were taught enough to have a complete freedom of technology and knowledge as young adults, which let them experiment and develop their respective arts.
posted by mumimor at 2:09 PM on June 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


What if we removed the age of the artist or any other context of the work and just hung the pieces in a gallery - how would you like it then?

I suspect the sensationalist bullshit about this artist being "the next Picasso" would never enter the equation, then. These would just be mostly-ignored pieces of artwork (and rightly, in my opinion.)
posted by naju at 2:11 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


So what about that little shit Mozart and his compositions at 5? Massive internet scorn?

My impression is that most of Mozart's juvenalia is considered little more than pastiche; charming, but pastiche nevertheless, certainly nothing compared to his later work, which was the product of a lot of learning and practice (the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours theory if you will). Natural talent takes artists only up to a certain point. It takes a lot of work to become a great artist.
posted by Omon Ra at 2:11 PM on June 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Agora charges $2950 to participate in a group show. I am curious about how much they charge for a solo show.

This photographer contacted another artist who had shown at Agora, and was told not to expect to sell anything.

They apparently send out a lot of invites to artists.

They have a pretty bad rep among visual artists, expressed in this thread and summed up by this comment.

Here's a comment about the gallery owner:

i contacted Agora Gallery and after merely sending my web address was immediately "accepted". just to see how open and honest this gallery would be to deal with, i feigned ignorance and asked a lot of questions. initially she responded, but when she claimed not to know how many artists her gallery "represented", because "it was changing all the time" (!) it was a claim i found ridiculous and unbelievable. when pushed to answer, she stopped responding and dropped contact with me. she would not be completely transparent at the onset of a business relationship, so future dealings would always be doubtful.

Unless we hear otherwise, it is reasonable to expect that the parents are paying a vanity gallery in Chelsea in order to have bragging rights that their kid had a show in New York. This story is an extreme outlier in the world of fine arts, and should not be considered representative any more than if the parents put together a book of their kid's poetry on Lulu could be seen as an indictment of poetry.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:17 PM on June 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Meh. So she has parents who are artists (with gallery relationships), and as a result has a heck of a lot of painting supplies, including large lovely canvasses, within easy reach.

Just because those materials are more expensive/impressive than finger paints, does not make her a better or more interesting artist than a million little kids with their finger paintings. IMO. Nice press for the gallery btw. So uh, yeah, not impressed.
posted by Glinn at 2:22 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I believe that the record for the earliest age at which anyone has created a masterpiece is Mendelssohn composing the overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream when he was 17 and a half.

After that, probably Mary Shelley publshing Frankenstein when she was 21.

By comparison, Mozart's first great work was probably the opera Idomeneo, produced when he was 25.
posted by Trurl at 2:38 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I also think we should be dismissive of children who act professionally, or sing professionally, or any other form of professional artistic expression, because only adults can do any of it meaningful, and any time a child does it it just shows what a hoax the adults are."

I think we should never be dismissive of children who want to be taken seriously as artists because their work is just as good as adults, what with having a gimmick and being oh so precious.

People are being dismissive because her work is crap and looks markedly similar to a lot of other crap paintings that abound in college town dumpsters after move-out.

The work is weak, and anyone praising it as "abstract expressionism" or (especially) "surrealism," like is done in the Beeb vid, is an idiot.
posted by klangklangston at 2:38 PM on June 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Others have already mentioned Marla Olmstead, so I'd just like to add that there's a documentary about her. (Aptly titled My Kid Could Paint That)
posted by ymgve at 2:40 PM on June 9, 2011


nine of her paintings on show at the Agora Gallery, in Manhattan, already selling, with pieces priced up to $9,900 (£6,000) each

My kids' work is priceless.
posted by mazola at 3:00 PM on June 9, 2011


Trurl: "I prefer her early stuff."

I heard that Afterbirth made a real splash.
posted by Splunge at 3:14 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Her first show was when she was 2 in the Brunswick Street Gallery in Australia. Pretty impressive. Of course, it's another vanity gallery. I can't tell whether the child was charged for her appearance in a group show, although it seems to have been rather embarrassing for the gallery owner, to the delight of this art critic.

And who is calling her "the next Picasso"? Nobody specific it seems. Every reference to her as a pee wee Picasso is written as a passive sentence, such as the piece in Time, The Washington Post, Yahoo news. I suspect they were just rewriting the girl's Web page, as they either paraphrase or directly quote the passive construction there, like typical lazy arts writers, who are generally as bad at their jobs as science writers are at theirs.

The site does quote something called "Today Tonight" as calling her a Pee-wee Picasso, but I'd have to see the original quote to make sure it's not just another "people say she's a pee wee Picasso" quote. Impossible to tell, as the press section is a PNG without any links.

Most of the co-called "art criticism" I see applied to the girl, comments like abstract expressionism" and also "surrealist," come from Anglea Di Bello, the Agora Gallery owner. The site quotes some actual critics -- Germaine Greer is quotes as calling the pieces "vivid abstracts, full of life, movement and dazzling colour," and indeed she did, but in the co0ntext of retelling what the Asutralian curator saw in the piece (and missing the part of the story where he was likely paid to exhibit the art).

The site also quotes Aer: Das Kunstremagazin as calling Aelita a "wunderkind," and so they do, in their subhead, which translates as "Miracle child in diapers or crazy parents?"

They also quote Robert Nelson, critic for The Age, as calling her work "Gorgeous ... magical." I can't find where he said this, but those are suspicious ellipses. It seems to have come from a 60 Minutes segment. But in this ABC interview we're informed that the child is given a piece of canvas that is already primed, with hints that the parents participate in its creation, and Nelson elaborates on why he likes it: "What the artwork represents is a family activity and it makes me feel very warm. I think that's the sort of thing that families should do."

I have nothing against children making art, or getting displayed, but I am uncomfortable with the hype machine springing up here, and that other journalists aren't taking any time to look into it. She isn't a prodigy. She's a little girl whose parents seemingly bought her gallery space, and who are milking a series of miscommunications in the press to behave as though there is some sort of critical consensus about the talent of their child. It's not a smart game to play, because sooner or later actual critics wander by, get wise, and feel like they're being gamed. If this child has talent, she runs the risk of being dismissed for the rest of her life as a gimmick, if her parents participate in the creation of the art, she may get accused of being a hoax, and that's not a nice thing to set your 4-year-old up for.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:14 PM on June 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Posting his story on MetaFilter is like chumming in the middle of a school of sharks snarks.
posted by tomswift at 3:15 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


his=this
posted by tomswift at 3:34 PM on June 9, 2011


BoingBoing ran a story about this girl a week ago or so. The hipster-geek gang over there took it as an opportunity to slag abstract expressionism. It was kind of like listening to my parents rail against "that rock-n-roll crap".
posted by Thorzdad at 3:39 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


DOES SOMEONE NEED A SMACK?
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:15 PM on June 9, 2011


"Marge, your paintings look like the things they look like."
posted by 4ster at 4:22 PM on June 9, 2011


DOES SOMEONE NEED A SMACK?
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:15 PM on June 9

I'll take a half dozen if you are dishing them out. But I assume you are talking about the parents here?
posted by Trivia Newton John at 9:26 PM on June 9, 2011


She's the next Picasso in the same sense that a child beauty pageant queen is the next Marilyn Monroe.
posted by milk white peacock at 10:05 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait a second! I've seen that little girl before- in that Catfish picture...
posted by Apocryphon at 10:56 PM on June 9, 2011


I believe that the record for the earliest age at which anyone has created a masterpiece is Mendelssohn composing the overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream when he was 17 and a half.

Are there criteria for 'masterpiece'? I would bet that many of the early Beatles numbers, for example, were written when Lennon and McCartney were just out of school - but then, pop music, particularly when referred to as 'pop music' by broadsheet readers, is often taken as a valueless young people's medium. I've also read some excellent novels by young writers - Helen Oyekemi, Alain-Fournier, Raymond Radugiet. This isn't to say that everything they wrote at four should be published, mind.

When I was four or five, I invented a piece of conceptual art. It was entitled The Phonoparapser. It was constructed in the mould of Duchamp - as the main material was a square of white paper, it was everyday art, and it was available to everyone. The construction was simple - fold each corner in carefully, then take the sheet, scrunch it up and throw it - but the result was anything you wished it to represent. At least, nobody told me and I had no idea what a Phonoparapser actually was; my job was just to come up with the creative genius and allow the adoring public (bemused aunties) to project their own individual thoughts and feelings onto my blank, scrunched up canvas.

I think my auntie still has hers which shows that four year old art is POWERFUL and ENDURING work. Maybe, some day, this wee girl will graduate into makeing phonoparapsers of her own, but at that point, it will have been done, and the only way from there is Hallmark card illustrations and the bottle.
posted by mippy at 4:10 AM on June 10, 2011


I would argue that most masterpieces have a broad social impact that goes further than your immediate family.
posted by Omon Ra at 5:25 AM on June 10, 2011


"plays note-for-note like a mockumentary of the art world."
Oh what I would give for this to be a Christopher Guest movie.
posted by like_neon at 6:01 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would argue that most masterpieces have a broad social impact that goes further than your immediate family.

Aye, but she's in a gallery now, so it's not the same as me (or any other child) making up something silly to amuse adults. 'Broad social impact', well now...I would imagine not.
posted by mippy at 6:23 AM on June 10, 2011


Omon Ra nailed it.
posted by sfts2 at 9:49 AM on June 10, 2011


The work is weak, and anyone praising it as "abstract expressionism" or (especially) "surrealism," like is done in the Beeb vid, is an idiot.

So much for subjectivity in art.
posted by rocket88 at 12:08 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hang it on a refrigerator, then I'll look at it.




thank you Mitch Hedberg.
posted by pianomover at 2:03 PM on June 10, 2011


"So much for subjectivity in art."

Well, no. Even in art, words mean things. She's painting, not carving woodblocks. And anyone who says that her paintings are surrealism doesn't know what the word surrealism means or any of the history of surrealism. There's a broad, vague case to be made for abstract expressionism, but that relies a lot on the literal meaning of the words "abstract expressionism," and frankly at that point, nearly any art is "abstract expressionism" even pictorial realism.

Just because neither her nor you know what you're talking about does not mean that your definitions are just as valid.

(Further, the retreat to "subjectivity" is usually a sign of a bullshit aesthetic opinion with nothing objective to back it up.)
posted by klangklangston at 4:13 PM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


her don't know what she is talking about
posted by found missing at 4:21 PM on June 10, 2011


I like her work. I'm glad she made it - or her parents coached her to make it, or whatever - and I'm glad I got to see it because it brought me pleasure. I don't care about anything else. Even after years of art history and painting and critiques I still foolishly believe that my own reaction to the aesthetics of something is the criterion by which I wish to judge.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 5:21 PM on June 10, 2011


Is the question less about whether the art is 'good' or not but more that art is somehow 'good enough' to be worth 9k or so? lol
posted by sfts2 at 5:56 PM on June 10, 2011


The site does quote something called "Today Tonight" as calling her a Pee-wee Picasso, but I'd have to see the original quote to make sure it's not just another "people say she's a pee wee Picasso" quote. Impossible to tell, as the press section is a PNG without any links.

For the benefit of non-Australians, 'Today Tonight' is a sensationalist 'current affairs' program that tends to feature stories on miracle diets, con man builders and pregnant teens. I doubt that quote would have been backed by an expert of any kind.
posted by lovedbymarylane at 7:05 AM on June 11, 2011


klang, the "subjectivity" angle wasn't a retreat, it was a comment on your ridiculous my-opinion-is-absolute-fact argument and your assertion that anyone who thinks differently is an idiot.
There are no hard definitions for abstract expressionism and surrealism, just generally accepted agreements and consensus, and even those are fuzzy-edged and overlapping. Abstract expressionism is probably the most appropriate label for this type of art. You may disagree, but calling someone an idiot for using that label is no different from those who would deem all non-representational work as "not art".
posted by rocket88 at 9:07 PM on June 11, 2011


"klang, the "subjectivity" angle wasn't a retreat, it was a comment on your ridiculous my-opinion-is-absolute-fact argument and your assertion that anyone who thinks differently is an idiot.
There are no hard definitions for abstract expressionism and surrealism, just generally accepted agreements and consensus, and even those are fuzzy-edged and overlapping. Abstract expressionism is probably the most appropriate label for this type of art. You may disagree, but calling someone an idiot for using that label is no different from those who would deem all non-representational work as "not art".
"

Really? In what ways does Andre use the unconscious associations of her mind to go beyond realism in her paintings? What symbolism is she incorporating? How is her work connected to the lineage of Breton (or Miro or Dali or Magritte or Ernst) by any aesthetic thread?

Just because what defines a "dog" is fuzzy doesn't mean that ducks are dogs; "novel" has a fuzzy meaning, but you'd be an idiot if you called your comments here "novels," especially if you defended that by saying that having never been written before, they were literally "novel." That something has fuzzy boundaries is an inane argument for not recognizing the core of the definition nor the context that coincides with that definition.

And like I said, while "abstract expressionism" fits, it only does so by broadening the definition to its most literal, at which point my rug has abstractions of flowers on it and is expressing a feeling of order and happiness.

Why not throw "post-modern" in there too? After all, she is working in a period of time after modernism!

If you want to be accurate with your art history terms, you can call her work Art Brut, Outsider Art or Naive Art, but that would have denied the pretentious status accorded to Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism.

Finally, no, calling someone who uses art terms incorrectly in order to justify flogging some bullshit from a toddler in her vanity gallery an idiot is not the same as calling all non-representational art "not art." Neither is pointing out that you don't know what you're talking about and that by diluting the meaning of art history terms of art (no pun intended), you're losing the real meaning that those words have. Asserting that it is the same is also idiotic.
posted by klangklangston at 10:05 AM on June 12, 2011


So who here thinks that she actually titled her paintings "Pangaea" and "Coral Nebula"? Anyone? If she did, that is one well educated, intellectually deep four year old. The concepts behind those two titles seem a bit of a stretch for a kid that young, even if she is a prodigy.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 10:22 AM on June 13, 2011


« Older I like you. I think we can get along very nicely.   |   "Personhood" laws and reproductive rights Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post