Dominitus (dominitus) wrote,

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Aelita Andre

This is the first I've heard of artist Aelita Andre. A video of her is currently trending on YouTube, which is how I came across her. It depicts her at work in her studio:

It goes for about 14 minutes - I didn't bother to watch it all, I watched the first few minutes then skipped through it. It is the height of indulgent wank, regardless of the debate it accompanies.

Naturally my first reaction was one similar to the commenters on YouTube. Surely this is a child who has been heavily indulged, and many other children could produce similar work when given the same opportunity (surprisingly and to a certain extent, it turns out her father agrees). At the same time I was intrigued to find out how she had come to have her own exhibition at only age four (the above video is something of a promotion for it).

So I looked for articles and found this one from 2009, when she was initially discovered, and this one from 2010, detailing how her story had progressed over the year, and a proper interview with the parents to get their input, which was especially interesting. As I mentioned, this year they are holding an exhibition of her work, at the Agora gallery in New York.

Reading the interview with the parents raises some interesting questions. What is "art"? Does art need to have an intent to be legitimate? Personally I feel art is an expression, whether with intent or not. Why should something need to have purpose to have meaning? Since the way we feel about artwork is subjective, aren't we all finding our own meaning from art anyway? WE give it meaning via our interpretations. If the widely-agreed purpose of the majority of art is to challenge/entertain/inform etc., then Aelita's artwork is entirely legitimate, even if she had no intent for it to be so.

Are Aelita's parents ones who, thanks to some training in the arts, recognised in their daughter a talent, and had the means to give her the opportunity to develop that talent and the contacts to get her talent noticed by the world at large...

...or are they indulging and/or exploiting a child and trying very hard to make it seem like they aren't, and at the same time having a go at parents who don't indulge their children or attempt to help them develop artistic skills?


Tags: art, current events, internet, questions, video, what the...?
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There is a vast chasm between this and the work of other 4 year olds. Seriously, this is like a 4 year old sitting down and composing a sonata. She's quite clearly seeing the world in a way that most people don't and the reason this is art is because it gives us an insight into that. To you it may just look like paint splatters, but if you sit down and try you will see it's not so simple to make this style look good.

This is the most expensive painting ever sold:

No. 5 by Jackson Pollock.

As for what is art?

Personally I feel art is an expression, whether with intent or not.

Derrida believed that we could never know an author's intent; it's part of a subjective mind that is unable to be authentic with itself, so how could it ever authentically explain its own intent? The intent of a work is a privileged space that is entirely inaccessible by the audience. Thus, to speak of authorial or artistic "intent" is an absurdity. The best idea I can come up with is art is art once enough of the right people decide its value collectively. It's not always the same people, but some people do have more ability to call something art than others.
Pollock is mentioned in the interview with the parents. Her father says:

''The arguments we've had against Aelita are basically that because she doesn't have intention, it's not great art. But Jackson Pollock spent years trying to unlearn how to paint. He boozed himself up trying to get back to a childlike state. Are you trying to tell me that every one of his marks was intentional? How do we know it wasn't a case of 'I'll grab my house-paint and see what happens'? You can never know the mind of the artist.''

This makes a lot of sense to me, as does Derrida's belief.

I can't judge her paintings, I don't really know enough about the style, though I can see how one might view her paintings as "child-like Pollock", hear her story, and be very excited about her potential as an artist. That said, how do I know she's actually special? Which is why I found this interesting:

Her parents insist everything else [bar priming the canvas] is her own work, but with advantages like those, some observers say, any child could turn out work that looks professional.

''That's exactly right,'' her father says. ''That's what I'd encourage parents to do. And then the art world is going to be flooded with all this material produced by kids, and what's going to happen then to adult avant-garde artists? Down the gurgler. It's an enormous threat for that reason.''

Andre isn't arguing against the avant-garde so much as for the child. His child especially, but not exclusively.

''What Aelita does, I don't see other kids do. But maybe all the other kids who would have been as good as Salvador Dali, say, went off to become accountants or bank managers because their parents put them through a traditional education that didn't value the arts. We're simply giving our kid these professional materials and the time and saying, 'Go for it'.''

If anything it seems to be a very strong argument for encouraging creative pursuits in children, but since when have good parents NOT been doing that?

I thought I posted here...

Anyway, I said something about Derrida saying that intent is impossible to access so it's pointless to even talk about it, and about how art is something decided upon by the community, but that it's not democratic in that some voices count more than others.

Also that I think what she is doing is pretty damn special, it's no mean feat to paint like that; she is seeing the world in a way we don't and her art allows us insight into that perception. The world's most expensive painting is No. 5 by Jackson Pollock:

Strange, the comments were screened, presumably because it's a public entry, but that shouldn't be happening... I'll have to check my settings. Normally I'd delete this comment but your image shows up in this one and not the other.
Whatevs. Hopefully I didn't contradict myself :P

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But what if the artist didn't intend to portray a particular message/emotion in the first place? As much as artists have to put down a "this is what my practice is about" statement at exhibitions etc, a lot of people I know start simply with an idea or an image in their minds and work from there. I remember taking my photography folio down to a history and theory of photography class, only to have all the would-be art historians going aaaaah I see what you're doing here/what you're commenting on/portraying. And inside my head I was thinking, yeeessssss.....erm, really, I just wanted to create an image like x/y/z.

Anyway, I guess my point is that viewers project their own intent and understanding onto a work based on their own views/experience/way of seeing. Whether or not the artist intended their work to be understood in that way is irrelevant. Following on from which, my view of 'good' art is a creative expression that provokes an emotional response, that makes me think and want to look deeper. And as every person's response is unique, there will never be a consensus as to what is 'art' and what is not.


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Oh totally. I definitely approached my photography folios with an idea in mind, if only an atmosphere or an image or an indefinable feeling that I wanted to recreate. I guess what I was saying was that an artist's purpose or ideas behind their work is often (and this is not a bad thing!) extremely different from those perceived by the audience. And because of that, I can't see how you can judge the merit of a piece of work based on the intentions of the artist.

There is a depth of texture and a use of colour in her work that is beyond random noise, but I like abstract art, and I especially like painting that works with texture as well as colour.
I really wish I could "get" art. I really don't understand how people could have lives making it or studying it. I have tried, but it escapes me. I would rather read a good book. (BTW I am not condemning art, just that it does nothing for me)
I would consider writing an art-form, so you do get it :D
Gorgeous. I know what children are capable of producing and this is wonderful, even if not unique.
I'd put it up in my house.

That would be an excellent video to watch at a DT. I don't think it's wanky at all, I think it's beautiful.