Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What Kind of Genius Are You?

Wired 14.07: What Kind of Genius Are You?

An economist looks at creativity?
Wipe that "Whachoo talkin' about, Willis" look off your face.
This is the Dragon, and the Dragon loves multi-disciplinary takes on things.
Economist David Galenson looks at the oeuvre of many artists, and develops a theory on the expression of genius over an artist's lifetime. This is a longer story from Wired Magazine, that I, for one, found entertaining and inspiring (as I'm looking down the barrel of 35 in a few months, and still haven't cranked out a real masterpiece.)

Galenson collected data, ran the numbers, and drew conclusions. He selected 42 contemporary American artists and researched the auction prices for their works. Then, controlling for size, materials, and other variables, he plotted the relationship between each artist’s age and the value of his or her paintings. On the vertical axis, he put the price each painting fetched at auction; on the horizontal axis, he noted the age at which the artist created the work. When he tacked all 42 charts to his office wall, he saw two distinct shapes.
For some artists, the curve hit an early peak followed by a gradual decline. People in this group created their most valuable works in their youth – Andy Warhol at 33, Frank Stella at 24, Jasper Johns at 27. Nothing they made later ever reached those prices. For others, the curve was more of a steady rise with a peak near the end. Artists in this group produced their most valuable pieces later in their careers – Willem de Kooning at 43, Mark Rothko at 54, Robert Motherwell at 72. But their early work wasn’t worth much.

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