Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity

by David W. Galenson

Paperback, 2007




Princeton University Press (2007), 256 pages

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LibraryThing member rlwillis
Galenson, an economist with the University of Chicago and the NBER, analyzes the creative lifecycles of artists and develops a thesis correlating an artist’s age and with their creative style.. He concludes that there are two types of creative artists, experimental innovators (old masters) and conceptual innovators (young geniuses). In the book he quantifies the two types and makes arguments as to why they are valid, describing the characteristics of each type, and addressing criticisms of his argument. His research focuses on modern artists, but he expands it to other genres of painting, sculpture, film, literature, though, oddly, not music. It’s primarily a social science / economic work. I don’t agree completely with his arguments and conclusions, but there is a lot of insight into the creative process of artists in general and specifically the modern artists. In fact, I learned a lot about the modern art movement and the book was worth reading solely because of that. I also find myself using his framework whenever I see a film, painting, or read a book now. While it is written for a popular audience, it can be a little dry since it’s academic-based, though I found the reading flowed well. It will be a bit denser than books like Freakonomics or Gladwell’s books, and is more focused than those works, but it can offer general insights much like they do. If you like economics /social science or are someone into art, I recommend this book. If you’re looking for another Freakonomics, Blink, The Tipping Point, etc, this might bore you.… (more)


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