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Toward Abstraction: Ranking European Painters of the Early Twentieth Century

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  • David W. Galenson

Abstract

Paris was the undisputed capital of modern art in the nineteenth century, but during the early twentieth century major innovations began to occur elsewhere in Europe. This paper examines the careers of the artists who led such movements as Italian Futurism, German Expressionism, Holland's De Stijl, and Russia's Suprematism. Quantitative analysis reveals the conceptual basis of the art of Umberto Boccioni, Giorgio de Chirico, Kazimir Malevich, and Edvard Munch, and the experimental basis of the innovations of Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Piet Mondrian. That the invention of abstract art was made nearly simultaneously by the conceptual Malevich and the experimental Kandinsky and Mondrian emphasizes the importance of both deductive and inductive approaches in the history of modern art.

Suggested Citation

  • David W. Galenson, 2005. "Toward Abstraction: Ranking European Painters of the Early Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 11501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11501
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David W. Galenson, 2004. "A Portrait of the Artist as a Very Young or Very Old Innovator: Creativity at the Extremes of the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 10515, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. David W. Galenson, 1999. "Quantifying Artistic Success: Ranking French Painters - and Paintings - from Impressionism to Cubism," NBER Working Papers 7407, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. David Galenson, 2009. "Old masters and young geniuses: The two life cycles of human creativity," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 12, pages 1-9, May.
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    1. David W. Galenson, 2004. "A Portrait of the Artist as a Very Young or Very Old Innovator: Creativity at the Extremes of the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 10515, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General

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