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

64 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2000

See all articles by David W. Galenson

David W. Galenson

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: December 1997

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

Galenson, David W., The Careers of Modern Artists: Evidence from Auctions of Contemporary Paintings (December 1997). NBER Working Paper No. w6331. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226085

David W. Galenson (Contact Author)

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