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An Economic Theory of Avant-Garde and Popular Art, or High and Low Culture

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Author Info

  • Tyler Cowen
  • Alexander Tabarrok

Abstract

Artists face choices between the pecuniary benefits of selling to the market and the nonpecuniary benefits of creating to please their own tastes. We examine how changes in wages, lump-sum income, and capital-labor ratios affect the artist’s pursuit of self-satisfaction versus market sales. Using our model of labor supply, we consider the economic forces behind the high/low culture split, why some artistic media offer greater scope for the avant-garde than others, why so many artists dislike the market, and how economic growth and taxation affect the quantity and form of different kinds of art.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Southern Economic Association in its journal Southern Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 67 (2000)
Issue (Month): 2 (July)
Pages: 232-253

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Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:67:2:y:2000:p:232-253

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Web page: http://www.southerneconomic.org/
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Cited by:
  1. Edward Castronova, 2004. "Achievement Bias in the Evolution of Preferences," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 195-226, May.
  2. Bryan Caplan, 1998. "Michael H. Kater, The Twisted Muse: Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 287-289, December.
  3. Alex Tabarrok, 1998. "V. A. Ginsburgh and P.-M. Menger (eds.), Economics of the Arts: Selected Essays," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 285-287, December.
  4. Cellini, Roberto & Cuccia, Tiziana, 2007. "Information externality in the arts and the public intervention: a brief note," MPRA Paper 5193, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Cartigny, Pierre & Champarnaud, Luc, 2013. "A dynamic game for fiscal federalism with non-local externalities," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 328-335.
  6. Bertacchini Enrico & Friel Martha, 2013. "Understanding creativity and innovation in industrial design: an historical and empirical assessment," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201311, University of Turin.
  7. Lasse Steiner & Lucian Schneider, 2013. "The happy artist: an empirical application of the work-preference model," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 225-246, May.
  8. Bille, Trine & Fjællegaard, Cecilie Bryld & Frey, Bruno S. & Steiner, Lasse, 2013. "Happiness in the arts—International evidence on artists’ job satisfaction," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 15-18.
  9. Alessandro Balestrino, 2009. "Kind of Black: The Musicians' Labour Market in Italy," CESifo Working Paper Series 2769, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Allan, Corey & Grimes, Arthur & Kerr, Suzi, 2013. "Value and Culture," Working Papers 13_09, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
  11. Edward Castronova, . "Achievement Bias in the Evolution of Preferences," Gruter Institute Working Papers on Law, Economics, and Evolutionary Biology 2-1-1010, Berkeley Electronic Press.
  12. David Throsby, 2006. "An Artistic Production Function: Theory and an Application to Australian Visual Artists," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 1-14, March.

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