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

Author

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  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Tyler Cowen & Alexander Tabarrok, 2000. "An Economic Theory of Avant-Garde and Popular Art, or High and Low Culture," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 232-253, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:67:2:y:2000:p:232-253
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ruth Towse, 2010. "Creativity, Copyright and the Creative Industries Paradigm," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(3), pages 461-478, August.
    2. Ruth Towse, 2011. "Creativity," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Cultural Economics, Second Edition, chapter 18 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. 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.
    4. Jose Canals-Cerda, 2005. "Congestion Pricing in an Internet Market," Working Papers 05-10, NET Institute, revised Sep 2005.
    5. Edward Castronova, 2004. "Achievement Bias in the Evolution of Preferences," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 195-226, May.
    6. 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.
    7. David Throsby, 2006. "An Artistic Production Function: Theory and an Application to Australian Visual Artists," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 30(1), pages 1-14, March.
    8. Lasse Steiner & Lucian Schneider, 2013. "The happy artist: an empirical application of the work-preference model," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 37(2), pages 225-246, May.
    9. Alessandro Balestrino, 2012. "Kind of Black: The Musicians' Labour Market in Italy," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 26(4), pages 472-491, December.
    10. Bryan Caplan, 1998. "Michael H. Kater, The Twisted Muse: Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 22(4), pages 287-289, December.
    11. 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.
    12. Allan, Corey & Grimes, Arthur & Kerr, Suzi, 2013. "Value and Culture," Working Papers 13_09, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
    13. Alex Tabarrok, 1998. "V. A. Ginsburgh and P.-M. Menger (eds.), Economics of the Arts: Selected Essays," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 22(4), pages 285-287, December.
    14. Edward Castronova, "undated". "Achievement Bias in the Evolution of Preferences," Gruter Institute Working Papers on Law, Economics, and Evolutionary Biology 2-1-1010, Berkeley Electronic Press.
    15. 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.

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