4-year-old Aelita Andre gets her own NY art show, sells paintings for $27K

Artist Aelita Andre at work in her studio. (Photo: Screengrab/YouTube)
Artist Aelita Andre at work in her studio. (Photo: Screengrab/YouTube)

It's amazing what a little kid can do with colored canvases, glue, pipe-cleaners, pompoms, plenty of paint-and the understanding that she won't get in trouble if she makes an enormous mess. The question is: Is she just playing, or deliberately creating art?

Aelita Andre's parents, both artists, are certain that their daughter is a bona fide Abstract Expressionist painter. The Australian girl has been crawling around on canvases since she was about 9 months old, according to her dad Michael Andre, and she made her first piece of authentic art just a few months later. Now, at the ripe old age of 4, she's got her own show in New York, "The Prodigy of Color" at the Agora Gallery in Chelsea. And she just sold three of her paintings for a cool $27,000.

On the one hand, her work seems like joyful play of any random 4-year-old. ("Blue! Yay, Blue!" she exclaims in a video, gleefully getting as much paint on herself as she does on her canvases.) But her parents and some art critics insist that the preschooler is "a fully mature artist" working with single-minded dedication to her art. Decide for yourself:

Angela Di Bello, the gallery's director, chose Aelita's artwork without knowing the little girl's age. "I saw great colors, great movement, great composition and very playful, and I thought, 'This is fantastic. Who is this person?' Only to find out, she's a child," Di Bello told NBC New York. The 24 paintings on exhibit at the Agora Gallery are priced from $4,400 to $10,000 each. In 2009, one of her paintings (created when she was just 2 years old) sold for $24,000 during a Hong Kong exhibition.

"Every parent thinks their child is gifted, and this is why we thought we really had to go and look for professional advice," her mother, Russian artist Nikka Kalashnikova, said.

Thanks to Aelita, the art world may be experiencing a bit of deja vu. In 2005, then 4-year-old Marla Olmstead was heralded as the next Jackson Pollock; her abstract paintings brought in more than $300,000 in just a few months. She became the subject of a 2007 documentary, "My Kid Could Paint That," which questioned whether Marla was really creating the pricy paintings herself.

Aelita is facing a similar skepticism, even if she doesn't know it yet. "We took her to MoMA yesterday," her mother told the New York Post this week. "And she was so upset that we were taking her to see other artists' work instead of going to her own exhibition."

What do you think? Cool, yes. But is it genius? Or just a kid who really likes to play with paint?

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