Hidden Genius

22 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2018

See all articles by David W. Galenson

David W. Galenson

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

Date Written: January 2018


The conceptual innovations of brash and transgressive young geniuses, from Pablo Picasso and T.S. Eliot to Jean-Luc Godard and Bob Dylan, often arrive suddenly and conspicuously, and are immediately recognized and celebrated. In contrast, the experimental innovations of cautious old masters often arrive gradually and unobtrusively, and may be long overlooked and undervalued: Auguste Rodin, Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Frost, and Irving Berlin are among those who had to endure long struggles to gain their full critical recognition. Ironically, the very success of these great innovators added to their longtime neglect, as their creation of subtle and realistic new forms that were deliberately intended to appear natural rather than artificial led many contemporaries to dismiss their art as easy, simplistic, and unimportant. The achievements of these innovators were in fact based on deep mastery of their disciplines, and we must understand those disciplines to appreciate their contributions. Recognizing that important innovations need not be blatant, but can be subtle and unobtrusive, can help scholars to correct the error of the longstanding belief that creativity is greatest in youth.

Suggested Citation

Galenson, David W., Hidden Genius (January 2018). Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics Working Paper No. 2018-5. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3110155 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3110155

David W. Galenson (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-8191 (Phone)
773-702-8490 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics