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Was Jackson Pollock the Greatest Modern American Painter? A Quantitative Investigation

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  • David W. Galenson

Abstract

A survey of the illustrations in textbooks of modern art demonstrates that scholars do consider Jackson Pollock the most important modern American painter, but not by a wide margin over Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, the leading artists of the following generation. The distribution of the illustrations furthermore reveals a sharp contrast in the careers of the major artists of these two generations: the Abstract Expressionists produced their most important contributions late in their careers, whereas their successors innovated early in theirs. This difference resulted from the differing approaches of the artists, for the Abstract Expressionists were experimental innovators, who developed new visual images by a process of trial and error, while the leading artists of the 1960s were conceptual innovators, whose work embodied new ideas.

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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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8830
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    1. Orazio Attanasio & Patrick Bolton & Hyun Song Shin, 1999. "Introduction," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 1-2.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. David W. Galenson, 2003. "The Reappearing Masterpiece: Ranking American Artists and Art Works of the Late Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 9935, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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