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The Life Cycles of Modern Artists

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  • David Galenson

Abstract

There have been two very different life cycles for great modern artists: some have made their major contributions early in their careers, while others have produced their best work later in their lives. These patterns have been associated with different artistic goals and working methods: artists who peak late are motivated by aesthetic considerations and work by trial and error, whereas artists who peak early are motivated by conceptual concerns and plan their work in advance. This paper applies this analysis to the careers of the leading members from the two generations of painters who made New York the center of the art world in the 1950s and ‘60s. The results not only yield a new understanding of the life cycles of creative individuals, but also provide new insights into the rationale behind the prices paid for works of art at auction.

Suggested Citation

  • David Galenson, 2002. "The Life Cycles of Modern Artists," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 3(3), pages 161-178, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:wej:wldecn:114
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco Daveri & Maria Laura Parisi, 2010. "Experience, innovation and productivity. Empirical evidence from Italy's slowdown," Working Papers 1009, University of Brescia, Department of Economics.
    2. Etro, Federico & Pagani, Laura, 2012. "The Market for Paintings in Italy During the Seventeenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(02), pages 423-447, June.
    3. Carlos Casacuberta & Ianina Rossi & Máximo Rossi, 2003. "El arte y el éxito: un matrimonio incómodo," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0303, Department of Economics - dECON.
    4. Victor Ginsburgh & Sheila Weyers, 2006. "Creativity and Life Cycles of Artists," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 30(2), pages 91-107, September.
    5. David W. Galenson, 2004. "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young or Old Innovator: Measuring the Careers of Modern Novelists," NBER Working Papers 10213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. 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.
    7. Karen D. W. Patterson & David Eduardo Cavazos & Marvin Washington, 2014. "It Does Matter How You Get to the Top: Differentiating Status from Reputation," Administrative Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(2), pages 1-14, April.

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