Fame as an Illusion of Creativity: Evidence from the Pioneers of Abstract Art
46 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2020
Date Written: August 1, 2018
We build a social structural model of fame, which departs from the atomistic view of prior literature where creativity is the sole driver of fame in creative markets. We test the model in a significant empirical context: 90 pioneers of the early 20th century (1910–25) abstract art movement. We find that an artist in a brokerage rather than a closure position was likely to become more famous. This effect was not, however, associated with the artist’s creativity, which we measured using both objective computational methods and subjective expert evaluations, and which was not itself related to fame. Rather than creativity, brokerage networks were associated with cosmopolitan identities—broker’s alters were likely to differ more from each other’s nationalities--and this was the key social-structural driver of fame.
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