A Portrait of the Artist as a Young, Middle-Aged, and Elderly Man

21 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2020

See all articles by Lones Smith

Lones Smith

University of Wisconsin at Madison - Department of Economics

Geoffrey R. Lanyon

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: September 16, 1999

Abstract

We explore the age-value and age-quantity productivity profiles of 53 great Western artists whose work has been auctioned in the last decade. In terms of the average value of their paintings, we find that artists have three distinct phases to their careers: a steep incline, more than doubling their expected value until an age 31 peak; then follows a slower decline until age 47, losing almost half their peak value, and finally a very slow decline. The top quartile of artists distinguish themselves not only by a higher average value, but also in midcareer by losing only a fifth of their peak value in 31-47.

We then compare these value results with the annual quantity age-profiles: Output rises by more than 125% steeply until age 32, and then falls very slowly for the rest of their career. This decline is significantly steeper for the lowest expected value quartile of artists. Finally, we show that artists paint significantly more the higher is their average value.

Our analysis uses both polynomial fits, as well as multiple structure change analysis to deduce the best fits by piecewise linear splines.

JEL Classification: J3

Suggested Citation

Smith, Lones and Lanyon, Geoffrey R., A Portrait of the Artist as a Young, Middle-Aged, and Elderly Man (September 16, 1999). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=182218 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.182218

Lones Smith (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin at Madison - Department of Economics ( email )

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Geoffrey R. Lanyon

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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