You might not follow the accomplishments of child art stars as closely as we do, so if you've yet to come across the paint-brush yielding adolescents that have recently taken the art world by storm, then you heard it here first: this is the summer of young art stars. They may not be able to properly dress themselves, but these art prodigies can certainly sell a painting.
It all began with five-year-old Aelita Andre, who kicked off the prodigy summer with an exhibit at Agora Gallery in June that boasted works worth over $12,000. And nine-year-old Kieron Williamson kept the spirit alive by selling 24 paintings for $386,000 earlier this month and announcing his very own retrospective. Yes, you heard that right -- at the age of nine, he's holding a retrospective.
The latest kid on the block is Ms. Autumn de Forest, a ten-year-old painter who was deemed an "artistic genius" by The Discovery Channel when she was a mere eight years old. She is embarking on her first solo gallery appearance in an exhibit neatly titled "Child Prodigy: A diverse collection of work by Autumn de Forest." The young painter will be showing around 100 pieces of her art in early August at Oceans Gallery in New Jersey, featuring what we imagine will be her usual spread of hearts, stars and ballerinas that have been known to fetch over $25,000 apiece.
So in celebration of the summer of the art prodigy, we've put together a slideshow of some of the favorite young artists, all of whom have sold a piece of art before they reached high school. Check out the slideshow of the 10 art prodigies below and let us know what you think of the mini-artist phenomenon in the comments section.
Cameron Sky Villa
By 2008, then two-year-old <a href="http://www.cameronvilla.com/" target="_hplink">Cameron Sky Villa</a> was having his second art show, displaying over 40 new paintings priced at $500 dollars a piece. According to an article posted on the the young artist's website, his first painting was initially priced at $2,000 but a haggling customer persuaded Cameron's father -- an artist who manages a frame store that sells the boy's art -- to lower the amount to $500. Cameron's parents say that he generally spends about a minute on each painting before asking to ride his bike, insisting that their child is not a prodigy but just a kid that loves to paint. After watching Cameron attempt to put his t-shirt on by himself at the beginning of this video, we can see where they're coming from.
In 2001, then eight-year-old <a href="http://hamzahmarbella.com/hamzah-marbella-a-child-prodigy/" target="_hplink">Hamzah Marbella</a> made his way into the world of art as the youngest member of the Artists Association of the Philippines. He started painting at the age of two, formally joined competitions at the age of four, and had won over 50 awards by the age of eight. We're not exactly sure what awards he won, for all we know he could have been dominating his elementary school's craft fair, but his website states that some of his work is housed at UN headquarters in New York City.
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0590449060?tag=girlscando&link_code=as3&creativeASIN=0590449060&creative=373489&camp=211189" target="_hplink">Wang Yani</a> is a Chinese artist who began painting at the age of two. Her work was exhibited in China when she was four, appeared on a postage stamp when she was eight, and was shown in a solo exhibition at a museum in London when she was fourteen. After that, her work showed up at galleries in the US and Germany. Monkeys, baboons and cats were her favorite subjects to paint, and one of her first paintings -- created when she was three years old -- was simply titled "Kitty."
<a href="http://www.artakiane.com/home.htm" target="_hplink">Akiane Kramarik</a> started drawing at the age of four, painting at six, writing poetry at seven and making Oprah appearances by 10. Her gift for the arts was so overwhelming that her atheist parents converted to Christianity upon seeing their child's religious visions on canvas, according to a <a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20070124075844/http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/2004/004/7.24.html" target="_hplink"><em>Today's Christian</em> article</a>.
<a href="http://www.joshtiessen.com/" target="_hplink">Josh Tiessen</a> had his first public art exhibition at age eleven and his first gallery exhibition titled "Josh Tiessen: Launching into Fine Art" at age fourteen. Since then, the Canadian teenager has had 15 exhibitions, sold over 50 original works and over 100 limited edition prints, and opened his own gallery, "Josh Tiessen Studio Gallery."
<a href="http://www.marlaolmstead.com/" target="_hplink">Marla Olmstead</a> attracted international attention at the age of four when 25 of her abstract artworks sold for $40,000. The paintings were compared to works from Wassily Kandinsky and Jackson Pollock, but soon prompted observers to question whether they could actually be produced by a toddler. A 2005 <em>60 Minutes</em> episode and the 2007 documentary <em>My Kid Could Paint That </em>explored the accusation that Olmstead didn't create the paintings on her own, but it was never ultimately proven.
<a href="http://alexandranechita.com/" target="_hplink">Alexandra Nechita</a>, or the "Petite Picasso" as some refered to her as, was drawing by two, painting with watercolors by five and working with oil and acrylic at seven. She had her first solo exhibition at the age of eight at the public library in Whittier, Los Angeles County and went on to exhibit internationally and also star in an episode of "Boy Meets World". The Romania-born artist is still going strong in her 20s, <a href="http://www.cnn.com/exchange/blogs/ypwr/2007/11/alexandra-nechita_26.html" target="_hplink">telling CNN</a> that she knew she was in it for the long run when she heard an observer of her work say, "That's a Nechita."
If you haven't seen pint-sized artist <a href="http://www.aelitaandreart.com/aelitaandreart.com/Home.html" target="_hplink">Aelita Andre</a> splatter her paint and toss about her glitter, you are truly missing out. She had her first exhibition at 22 months old, standing out as the youngest toddler in this slideshow to sell a painting. And she's definitely developed the attitude necessary to hold onto her title as the princess of prodigies, proclaiming in this video, "I love painting. I am going to paint for 24 hours." Take that, competition. She's not even going to sleep.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/12/nine-year-old-artist-kier_n_1669610.html" target="_hplink">Earlier this month</a>, nine-year-old <a href="http://kieronwilliamson.com/" target="_hplink">Kieron Williamson</a> sold 24 paintings in 15 minutes for the very-adult price of $386,000. He began painting at the ripe old age of six, and has been unwaveringly supported by his doting mother who recently wrote a biography about the young painter, modestly titled "Kieron Willimason Coming to Light -- The Remarkable Story of A Child's Gift to Painting."
Autumn de Forest
Eight-year-old Autumn de Forest became quite the press darling in 2010, charming her way into the hearts of every media outlet with an acronym. Even <em>The Discovery Channel</em> called her "an artistic genius." The young artist, now ten years old but still painting hearts and ballerinas, is such a "genius," that she's been able to fetch $25,000 for a single painting. Intrigued? Watch Autumn compare herself to Andy Warhol in this video.
BONUS: Joshua Caleb Johnson
<a href="http://www.glasshack.com/about/" target="_hplink">Joshua Caleb Johnson</a> is on the older end of the artist prodigy spectrum, because he didn't sell a painting until he was 13. We would have forgiven the home schooled Joshua for getting such a late start, but we didn't get a chance. He's already ended his illustrious painting career, turning instead to acting and film making.