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The Careers of Modern Artists: Evidence from Auctions of Contemporary Paintings

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  • David W. Galenson

Abstract

Using transactions from fine art auctions for 42 leading American contemporary artists I estimate the relationship between the value of a painting and the artist's age at the date of its execution. The econometric estimates show that artists born before 1920 were likely to have done their most valuable work late in their careers, while in contrast artists born in the 1920s and 30s were more likely to have done their most valuable work at an early age. Comparison of these results to evidence drawn from art history textbooks and museum exhibitions furthermore indicates that these artists' most valuable work has also been that most highly regarded by scholars. I argue that the shift across generations in the shape of these artists' age-price profiles was a result of both the evolution of modern" painting and a growth in the demand for contemporary American art during the 1950s and 60s.

Suggested Citation

  • David W. Galenson, 1997. "The Careers of Modern Artists: Evidence from Auctions of Contemporary Paintings," NBER Working Papers 6331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6331
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    Cited by:

    1. Caballer Mellado, V. & De La Poza, E., 2010. "La Numismática como objeto de inversión y valoración/Numismatics as an object of investment and valuation," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 28, pages 475(22á.)-4, Agosto.
    2. R. Ekelund & Rand Ressler & John Watson, 2000. "The ``Death-Effect'' in Art Prices: A Demand-Side Exploration," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 24(4), pages 283-300, November.
    3. Sebastian Edwards, 2004. "The Economics of Latin American Art: Creativity Patterns and Rates of Return," NBER Working Papers 10302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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