The Reappearing Masterpiece: Ranking American Artists and Art Works of the Late Twentieth Century
AbstractA survey of the illustrations in textbooks of modern art produces the startling finding that art scholars consider Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty to be the most important individual work made by an American artist during the past 150 years. More generally, quantifying the evidence of the textbooks reveals the source of the pluralism,' or stylistic incoherence, of American art since the late 1960s. A persistently high demand for artistic innovation has produced a regime in which conceptual approaches have predominated. The art world has consequently been flooded by a series of new ideas, usually embodied in individual works, generally made by young artists who have failed to make more than one significant contribution in their careers. The dramatic and monumental Spiral Jetty, made in 1970 by a young artist who was killed soon thereafter while in the process of making his art, has become a symbol for the art of this era.
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Date of creation: Sep 2003
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- J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
- J4 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets
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- David W. Galenson, 2002. "Was Jackson Pollock the Greatest Modern American Painter? A Quantitative Investigation," NBER Working Papers 8830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David W. Galenson, 2004. "One Hit Wonders: Why Some of the Most Important Works of Modern Art are Not by Important Artists," NBER Working Papers 10885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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