The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
When in their lives do artists produce their greatest creative work? By examining the careers of great painters, poets, novelists, and movie directors my guest today offers a profound new understanding of creativity. Using a wide range of evidence, Professor David Galenson shows in his book ‘Old Masters and Young Geniuses’ that there are actually two fundamentally different approaches to innovation; experimental innovators and conceptual innovators.
David W. Galenson is Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago; Academic Director of the Center for Creativity Economics at the Universidad del CEMA, Buenos Aires; and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
David and I discuss why some creative artists achieve success early in their lives while for others it requires decades of painstaking frustration and experimentation. We also learn how your most creative work may be ahead of you. Enjoy the show. – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
For More of SuperCreativity Podcast By James Taylor
James Taylor 0:00
David, it’s an absolute pleasure to have you here with us today. So I’ve I mentioned your book was on my favorite books I read last-year-old masters and young geniuses. In the book, you set out to consider how the quality of an artist’s work varies with their age. What got you interested in this topic in the first place?
Age Was Irrelevant For Artists
David Galenson 0:18
Yeah, let me just say, I mean, it’s a pleasure to be with you. I love this work, I find it fascinating. And it’s just always a pleasure for me to talk to people who are interested in it. And, you know, this is sort of a typical story of what I call experimental innovation. Because I started this work almost by accident. I have always loved art, I collect on a modest scale. And this is a couple of decades ago, I was buying a small drawing by a contemporary artist I like named Sol Lewitt. And I called this agent who was an old friend of my cousin in New York to check the price. And she I described the picture to her and she said, Well, we’re selling that size for less. And I said, Yeah, but you’re selling new works that he’s making. Now. This one is 10 years old. And she said That doesn’t matter. Well, I mean, I’m startled. Economists have done hundreds, possibly 1000s of studies of the effect of age on productivity in dozens of industries. And I had done these myself in economic history, the effect of age, on the contracts of indentured servants on the price of slaves. And here, this very knowledgeable person in the art world was saying that age was irrelevant for artists. But this made me realize that no one had ever studied this relationship for artists. And I knew that there was an enormous amount of data in the form of auction records. And so this is exactly the kind of empirical study I had always done in my field of economic history. So I got started. – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
James Taylor 1:51
And as fastly because there are so many books, obviously, on art history, and art and creativity and innovation, but I think I’ve read a few books that take that more than economists’ view of things as things are actually supported by real data, and not just people seeing what they think.
David Galenson 2:10
No, it’s never been done. And it’s very sad. And the fact that art historians, you know, they say we hate generalization, lead gen is constantly just not systematically. And in this particular case, you know, when we got the data into the computer, we started looking at the relationship, the empirical results from the auction data were the most surprising I have ever seen. I’ve been in this business a long time because I found that some important artists did their most expensive work late in their lives. Now that was consistent, generally with other Economic Studies, that people’s productivity increases as they age. But many very important artists did their most expensive work very early, that no economist had ever seen a result like this for intellectual activity. I mean, we’re not talking about Olympic swimmers, you know, we’re talking about painters. Nor did the existing work on creativity by psychologists help me.
The psychologists had made an assumption at the very beginning, and they’ve never deviated from it. Namely, they’ve assumed homogeneity within every activity. So they measure the life cycles of novelists or poets, and they’ll say, okay, poets speak at an earlier age, an earlier age, the novelist, but they never considered variation within a discipline. And that was exactly my issue. And it was a very dramatic question. You know, for example, say someone who was the greatest painter of his generation, did his best work at the age of 67. And then another great painter, Pablo Picasso, who was the greatest painter of the next generation did his 26. That’s a radical difference. The psychologists had nothing to say about this. And that is what I had to understand. – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
Experimental VS Conceptual Artists.
The key theory in the book is this differentiation between experimental versus conceptual artists. Can you explain the difference? And actually why is this distinction important?
Well, let me start with why it’s important. Because if you ask the psychologists, they will say, creativity is restricted to the young. That’s a widespread belief in our society, that only young people are creative. And again, it’s a very widespread popular belief. But again, it’s also a scholarly belief. And I understand in one sense, if you haven’t done systematic studies, I understand why you might believe that concept, what I call conceptual innovation is more sudden, it’s more dramatic, it’s more conspicuous. We have the image of Einstein or Picasso making these radical new discoveries and the personality type. conceptual innovators are typically more flamboyant. They get more attention. They are certain of their results. They say I’m a genius, right? So people say yes, creativity is for the young. But it’s what I call experimental innovation, an experimental sense of trial by error. These are people who are much more modest, they work much more grad usually much more, much more, excuse me slowly. And you say, why are these differences and they are overlooked very often. And very often this is their fault because they’re saying, Well, I haven’t really accomplished anything, even when they are making major discoveries because these are inductive people. And of course, you could never prove inductive propositions. But the problem is, you say, why is this important to say that creativity is only for the young is adjust. Now, it’s not only false, but it’s damaging. Right? We reject in our society sexism, we reject racism, because they’re not only unfair, but they’re damaging, they’re wrong. And the same thing is true of ageism, in this case, why is ageism damaging? Well, in this case, it’s discouraging, discouraging to older artists, older scholars, and it’s wrong. You know, if you tell people you can’t do anything important, you’re too old. Often people are going to get discouraged. But it also discourages investment in these older artists and scholars. So that many research funds many prizes are restricted to young people, very few are restricted to the elderly. Again, this is not only bad for individuals, this is bad for our society. You have, we lose this whole form of creativity. If people say don’t have independently the means to pursue the word Charles Darwin was from a very wealthy family had no problem never working for a living. He published the origin of species at 50. But imagine if he had to take a day job when he was 25 and never had time to do that research. Dusty Offski published The Brothers Karamazov at 59. Twain published Mark Twain published Huck Finn at 50 Marcel Proust finished in search of times last at 56 Alfred Hitchcock directed vertigo at 59, lick core boozy eight, design Notre Dom duo in Russia at 63. And on and on and on, today, Hitchcock would have a great deal of trouble being funded by a studio, he was too old. That’s past vertigo. In the last sorry, in the last sentence sound poll. vertigo was voted the most important movie ever made. Sorry. – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
James Taylor 7:11
But this idea of ageism coming in? I think it’s really a really fascinating one, actually, you mentioned Charles Darwin there. I remember a few years ago going to what I think was a British Museum and seeing the origin of species, a copy of the origin of species. And it was actually saying the word evolution only made it into the by the eighth edition of that book. It wasn’t spoken of in the first seven editions. So you can see as he experimented even within those, those different editions that were kind of going in, in the tummy. understand these differences between the experimental and the conceptual, creative. How is their creative process different, especially in the planning or the execution of their ideas?
David Galenson 7:55
They said that I started with this empirical result that some of these great painters did their most expensive work late in their lives, others early and then the interesting puzzle is what’s the difference. And the advantage of starting painters is there’s a tremendous amount of literature about when people have always been fascinated by them. So I just started reading about them individually. And what I noticed was that these young geniuses and the old masters made their paintings differently, they actually physically made the opinions differ. The young geniuses would plan their paintings very carefully in advance, they would make preparatory drawings, they would make sketches, they wouldn’t actually begin to apply paint to Canvas until they knew exactly what they wanted the final result to look like if you do an X-ray, of a Raphael or a Picasso, you usually find a very precise, prepared to a drawing underneath that was usually transferred mechanically from paper to the canvas, and then they basically painted inside the lines. But because there’s just one layer of paint, he knew what he was going to do. He did it. In contrast, the old masters specifically rejected preconceptions. They began painting without any preparation. Exactly, because they wanted to discover things as they worked. Very often great experimental artists will describe their process as a dialogue between the artist and the work. Right. And for example, Suzanne said, I seek in painting, and Picasso and the next generation said, I don’t see I find, – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
James Taylor 9:23
I love this quote because it just showed perfectly the differences in those two different approaches.
David Galenson 9:29
Picasso understood this difference he worshiped says on and says on was his point of departure, but he also understood that his art was radically different. He had a different purpose from that season, and it had a different method. And so the interesting thing is, why is this important? Well, artists are important because they’re influential. So design is important because he influenced all the art of the next few generations. Picasso influenced Matisse, but it says I had seen it because it was art and he could if he was still alive when Picasso initiated bism but he was in isolation, basically an excellent Provence, we never saw it. If he’d seen it, he would have hated it. But in fact, it was Cubism, the most important innovation in the next generation that elevated him to his position as the most important artist of his time. – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
James Taylor 10:14
And as you’re saying, this, I’m also thinking of obviously, in the book, you talk about not just artists, you talk about film directors, you talk about novelist as well, immediately when you were just saying they’re about young geniuses, young genius, and you’re an old masters, I was always the way you describe in that creative process. I was immediately thinking in music, like Mozart and Bach, where Mozart was just like, it was like right on the page, it was always famous for making these little notes and and doing his notation over the course he was kind of costly experimenting in that way as well. One question I did have like at the start is, and this is maybe a controversial one. So within the economists, your current has what on Earth, you’re using views on? How do you measure the quality of an artist’s work? How do you quantify that?
Great Artists Are Innovators
David Galenson 11:03
Well, you know, as I said, great, great artists are innovators, right? So their best work is their most innovative. And as I said, You know, I started using price as the measure of the quality of work. But obviously, there are a lot of people who would say, well, prices, tell us nothing about artists, they tell us about investment bankers, you know, maybe some investment banker says, gee, you know, I like that painting, because the colors go with my couch. Right? So I needed to do what my teacher used to call sensitivity analysis, I needed to try to find other sources of data to test the relationships I found, that were generated by different people for other purposes. And there were several really ideal sources that were actually generated by art scholars. I mean, the art market is for you know, it’s for wealthy people, art scholars generally don’t participate. But textbooks of art history are written to introduce students to the most important work of the past the most innovative work of every generation. And they’re always illustrated. And so what we did was simply go through all of the textbooks we could find, and take out all of the illustrations by the artists, we were studying all the Picasso’s all the seasons, and so on. And we simply counted them and we distributed them by age. And the results were, again, very startling. So that, for example, in the textbooks we looked at, there were about 35, we’ve had been published in the last two decades, the peak of we felt, we had found again, that the peak of saisons h price profile was at age 67. Well, the single year in which his work is most frequently illustrated in textbooks with 67. Picasso’s h price, price, price profile, pt 26. Again, the peak year for his textbook illustrations was 26. And it was very funny. I, you know, I was in Paris presenting a paper and a French, you know, the scholar said, well, but you know, you’re looking at textbooks written in English by Americans and Englishman, they know nothing about French art. So I went to the people that I take that scan now. And we found about 40 textbooks, published in French within the last two decades, and take a guess, the age at which Suzanne’s work was most frequently illustrated with 67. The age at which Picasso’s was most frequently illustrated was 26. I’ve done this comparison for several 100 painters. And the results are almost always very, very close. There’s very little disagreement, essentially, over the artist’s most important work, the market and the art scholars virtually always agree. – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
James Taylor 13:35
You also mentioned in the book about the role that mentors or teachers or maybe, you know, funders, I guess maybe in the time, like Michelangelo, they had on the, on the lives of the artists that you studied, can you really just talk about that about the those the impact that different artists have on each other? And what you can have found in that process?
David Galenson 13:58
Yeah, it turns out and this is not rocket science, it turns out that artists’ careers turn out to resemble those of scholars in many respects. And you know, people in any intellectual discipline, there are always exceptions to this, right. So I mean, no, no generalization about individuals is universal. But successful scholars usually study with important scholars of the generation before So scientists have done studies finding that Nobel laureates in physics or chemistry disproportionately have studied with an older Nobel laureate in the same discipline. And even more often, they almost always work early in their careers with other important scholars of their own age. Right. And this is really important. And the same is true of painters. So that in my modern era, the most important painters have generally emerged from groups of ambitious young artists. We think of the impressionist, the folks that Cubist, the abstract expressionist and so on, and they help each other learn, and they compete with each other and they provide challenges and let me just say, parents Theoretically, that each of those groups impressionists, the folks and so on there, they were all they were either all experimental or all conceptual. You work with people who work the way you do. – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
James Taylor 15:14
As they would say, in Silicon Valley, your vibe attracts your tribe.
David Galenson 15:19
Yeah, and there are reasons for that. I mean, there’s a scientist named Michael Nielsen, who’s written about this, about the problem of, say, solving posing problems on the internet. And there are certain problems that get solved on the internet. And there are certain problems that don’t. And he talks about the fact that essentially, you have to agree with your collaborators on what constitutes a solution. An experimental and conceptual people do not agree they weren’t they make their work for different purposes. They weren’t, they made it differently. And that’s why again, the Impressionists were all trying to do a common thing, not exactly the same way. But it was the same problem. And they agreed on the means the cube is the same. And the cube is really Picasso, you know, radically disliked Impressionism. He had no interest in it, he thought it was a dead end. Right. So he would have had nothing to say it would have been if he tried to work with somebody who is following the Impressionists, they would have simply fought all day every day, there’s no point.
James Taylor 16:16
I’m wondering as we can go, you talk about the importance of these, you know, these groupings, these ambitious young artists in that case. I’m wondering, did you get a sense, like, what the role of was a place in all of this as well, if that is, if both of us can experiment and conceptually, they all kind of gravitated towards being around other similar like minds? And also, you know, you’ll often hear things for example, in, you know, in the writers or Cylons of the 1920s, you know, the Gertrude Stein’s, they would bring together the thinkers and the artists, and they would kind of have those ideas. Did you get any sense, like what role plays has, in all of it’s enormously important,
Places of Creativity
David Galenson 16:59
but not because of any mystical properties of you know, the water or anything in the place, but rather, these are conjunctions of the best teachers in the best students. So that for painters, Paris was the center of the art world for the first century of modern art. And it was a magnet so that, you know, the young Picasso went to Paris. artists from all over Europe went to Paris, then after World War Two, New York emerged. And again, the most important modern movements came from those two cities. In the 1990s, the Y ba emerges in London, London, may be becoming I mean, I’m not up on the, you know, the exact, you know, the recent emergence of young painters, London, maybe a third center, but these are the great capitals of art, right? They have great museums, they have great schools, this is where the great minds come together. Again, it’s important to be in an art center, because nobody innovates in a vacuum. There’s this idea of the isolated, you know, great innovator, but to contribute to any intellectual discipline, you need to know where the frontier of that discipline is. And you do this by studying and working with its leaders. I was amused, didn’t you raise that question? – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
James Taylor 18:11
Yeah, it was this thing, because, you know, we often think of this idea of the, you know, the lone, creative genius, and then it’s contrasted with, like an Andy Warhol with a factory. One of the things that you mentioned in the book, there was an I can’t remember who the artist was that you mentioned, who would, would sell in comedy, they have like the work of work in progress shows, were essential, if a comedian is working on a new live show, they’ll do lots of little shows beforehand, to collect, try out the material, see what works, and then gradually, they’ll get rid of things. One of the artists you had, you mentioned, was almost doing I think it was a son, he basically assigned a son to sell off these kind of smaller works, these work in progress, artworks, because he was an experimental artist, and he was creating these and, and it created like a little model or revenue stream of these, I guess you would call them Minimum Viable products and technology.
David Galenson 19:10
I mean, there are a number of examples of that. I mean, a great example is Rembrandt was a great experimental painter. And we know that he made a series of states of his etchings and the scholars you know know when they were made, they know how they differ, they can show you how they differ. And Rembrandt was constantly revising his paintings, but he found with the etchings, it was lucrative to revise the states because he can actually sell every state to a particular collector, there were people who followed his work and they would buy seven or eight states of the same etching. And you know, Picasso never would have done that because it didn’t make more than one state. He made it. It was done. I don’t seek what I find. – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
James Taylor 19:51
Passenger. So did you have a sense in terms of it was there were any correlations you saw between the quantity you know, the just the person Did the pretentiousness of someone or an artist creating an impact upon value?
David Galenson 20:06
Very little, you know, when I started this project, I kept thinking there should be some correlation between output and these categories. And to some extent areas. I mean, Andy Warhol has to be the most productive artist of the 20th century. And he had assistance. I mean, he made 1000s and 1000s of paintings. But you have some extremely important conceptual painters like Picasso, who made enormous numbers of paintings. And then one of you know, one of the other two or three most important painters of the 20th century conceptual was Marshall, Marcel Duchamp probably didn’t make more than 20 paintings. And the same thing is true of experimental painters. Cezanne made a relatively small number of paintings because he kept revising them, you wouldn’t sell them Monet was highly experimental. But he would sell a painting and then make another one like it and make another one like it he’d like, he’d like to make the money. So there’s no strong correlation there. It’s true that highly conceptual artists can turn out like Warhol, massive volumes of work, or Damien Hirst because they do have factories. – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
James Taylor 21:09
Now I know, but we have a lot of people listen to the show, who are authors and writers, you also looked at rotors, and how this kind of idea of these two conceptual experimental, you know, the young genius geniuses in the old masters, how that applied, what did you find in that process?
David Galenson 21:27
Well, I began to realize, I mean, you know, after I had written the first book about this, I thought I was being realized this was General to other disciplines. I sort of thought after I published my first book, that English scholars would start to apply this to novelists and poets, and scientists would apply it to physicists. But I was dismayed and surprised to discover that nobody read my first book, I mean, who’s gonna read a book plan economist about art, and I had to do it myself. So I began applying it to other disciplines. And it became enormous fun, because there were these same differences. I mean, I mentioned earlier that I discovered that experimental and conceptual painters have different purposes. experimentalists basically want to present perceptions. This is the way I see the world. Right? Whereas conceptual is very often they have ideas they want to present, they have stories to tell, they may be moral stories. They may be, you know, there may be symbolism, they may be fantasy, but they’re fundamentally different purposes. And so for example, you know, this is when we look at novelists, experimental novelists, privileged characters and situations, they have trouble with planning, because they can’t plan. It’s not just they don’t want to plan they can’t plan. And whereas conceptual novelists, privilege plots, they plan them very carefully. But their characters tend not to be very realistic, right, because the characters have to fulfill the plot. So for example, Herman Melville was a great conceptual novelist, right, this great allegory of man against nature, good against evil, but these are not real people. Ahab speaks. I mean, they have would have been an illiterate captain of a ship in Nantucket. He speaks like a Shakespearean tyrant, right? He has this beautiful Elisabeth language, he would have come nowhere near that. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, these are not real people. But these are elegant plots. They have a beginning they have a development, they have an end, very neatly composed. And these are young geniuses. Melville wrote Moby Dick at 32. Fitzgerald Gatsby at 29. Ernest Hemingway Farewell to Arms at 30. Whereas in contrast, if we think about great experimentalists, the character is important. These are real people. These are people we think, could actually be doing these things. Marcel Proust completed in search of times past. At the age of 56. Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations at 49. Mark Twain wrote Huck Finn at 50, Virginia Woolf finished to the White House when she was 45. And a week before she finished the book, she wrote in her diary, I don’t know how to finish this book. I don’t know the ending, right? Whereas Ernest Hemingway knew the ending of farewell norm 20 began to write James Joyce knew the ending of Ulysses, when he began to write the first two chapters that Joyce wrote of Ulysses were the first one the last, Virginia Woolf couldn’t possibly write the last chapter until she had written all the others because she didn’t know how it was going to come out. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a great experimental writer, real people real suffering, you know, we feel when the cancer award he wrote that at 48. So again, different kinds of artists and mature at different ages, because it’s a completely different process of production. – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
James Taylor 24:43
One thing I was wondering is, I kept looking as I was going, I’ve tried to think of examples that didn’t conform to your do your own thing. Okay. Who can I think of that didn’t kind of work and the novelist one, the one I was thinking of was john le Carre. The spy crime rate at a British reaction just passed away. Recently. His criticism often is put towards using credible writers, prolific writers, but it’s something that’s often said of him is that the characters are not fully formed, the plotting is amazing. I mean, it’s a very complex plot, and you really have to be with it the whole time to carry it through the plots. And his writing. His successes certainly were in the early part of his career. But as he got older, his tone and his writing changed. And it became actually deeper and deeper in some ways as well. So I kind of wanted like is for those young geniuses that have maybe, maybe the center that kind of look through the book and think I’m, I’m probably a young genius, maybe it’s too late for me, what would you say to
David Galenson 25:48
young geniuses do change as they get older, and that’s why they lose their power. Because your experience of the world increases, your sense of realism increases. So Young geniuses, conceptual people are at their best, when they’re new to a discipline, they learn the rules, they say, I don’t like that rule. I’m going to break it, I’m going to do something basically different. And I see I would contend that Macquarie actually does. He conforms very closely to my model of a conceptual innovator, right, so that as he grew older, the characters did become more realistic. But I suspect that if we came up with a metric, we would find that his single most important novel was the first book. Yeah, I first came in from the cold. Yeah, I mean, I still remember I’m old enough to remember when that book was published, and it made an enormous impact. – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
James Taylor 26:36
Yeah, I can, it goes back to the thing you mentioned. The start is the work that informs other artists that influences other artists, that’s where a lot of that power comes from.
David Galenson 26:48
Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, this is not about how much we enjoy the words or how you know, how we feel about them, but rather the, as you say, the impact on the discipline. And I think it was in that first book if even if we went back and reread the obituaries for Kerry, I suspect we would find his greatest contribution was presenting a whole new view of the Cold War. where there were not so many good guys and bad guys, but shades of much more complexity. You know, it wasn’t simply good against evil. I think that was a book about ideas. And you get you to see, it’s sort of interesting when you know when people are skeptical about this analysis, I say, let’s imagine that you are writing for The New York Times, or if you prefer the London Times, right? And this person dies, and they’re going to you’re going to write their obituary, what would you put in the obituary? And I suspect, you know, again, I haven’t done this. But I suspect if we went back and looked at Kerry’s obituaries, many of them would mention the spy who came in from the cold. – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
James Taylor 27:44
Yeah, that’d be the one. And for that, it’s actually a very hopeful book. For those of us who may be getting on in age, you may be getting midlife and on as well, where you can have really I think, actually, you know, maybe my greatest creative work and endeavors are ahead of me. So for those who probably conform a little more towards those, hopefully, old masters, how can they play to that strength? What were the things that you shouldn’t be thinking about?
David Galenson 28:14
Well, you have to be disciplined, I think experimentalists should recognize that they are long-distance runners. And you know, there are obvious penalties to that early in your career, but they should not try to compete with conceptual sprinters. In many, many activities, particularly our society really privileges rapid innovation, we have very short attention spans, we use the internet, if there you know, if a story is developing slowly, we hit a link, we go somewhere else, we want instant gratification. And so in many disciplines, now there’s pressure to get very quick results to change frequently from one problem to another. But the advantage of experimentalists is in the long run, it’s in developing expertise, depth in one area, one kind of analysis, always trying to improve your work in that area and recognize that marathoners can’t compete with sprinters. But in the end, that doesn’t mean that they can’t produce important work. So again, successful experimental innovators have judgment, they have wisdom. They don’t have this pyrotechnic genius. And I think it’s important that they recognize that and not try to compete on uneven terms with their conceptual peers. – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
James Taylor 29:24
Well, I think it’s a very hopeful book, and I hope people go and get it the book is called Old Masters and young geniuses ought to tell you to know, for some of the other books, maybe if people have read this book, and maybe interested in some of the other what maybe what other of your works, you think they should be, should be checking out and going online and having a look at
Old Masters And Young Geniuses
David Galenson 29:42
the book that I most enjoyed was a very detailed book I wrote applying this to 20th-century art. It’s called conceptual revolutions in 20th-century art because I argue that there were changes in the structure of the art market in 19th century Paris, that that went from essentially a monopoly, you know, the state or The church governs the purchase of art to competition and, and competition in an economic sense, you know, perfect competition, privileges conceptual innovation because people want novelty. And so the 20th century, not completely, but by and large, was dominated by young conceptual innovators who could make rapid innovations, but then you rapidly gave way to the next generation. – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
James Taylor 30:25
It does certainly feel that we were maybe in a little bit of that just now maybe it’s the maybe in this time that we’re in just now there’s a lot of novelty that seems to be the gets the most attention. At the moment.
David Galenson 30:35
I have argued that we have an excessive emphasis on novelty and that it helps conceptualists but it hurts experimentalists. And so we’re missing these sort of deep, complex things like The Brothers Karamazov, like the origin of species. People don’t have time, there’s pressure to do work immediately. And these long research projects and these long artistic projects, you know, when I give talks about this to groups of artists, the people who come up afterward, they’re not conceptual if they already know this. And they understand they’ve already done their best work. But they’re always experimental people. They said, you know, you told the story of my life, but I can’t develop my art because I have to teach, I have to teach high school, I teach college, right, St. John’s father was independently wealthy, like Darwin’s. And so Suzanne always said, My father was a genius. His father scorned his career choice, but he provided him with enough funds in the end that he didn’t have to work for a living. And so it says he had decades and decades to develop his art very, very slowly, very, very gradually. Lots of people don’t have that. Yeah, we may be losing experimental artists who are unable who are not infinitely wealthy. – Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
James Taylor 31:46
So wonderful lessons were in this book. David Johnson, thank you so much for coming. And joining us today talking about the book. And if people want to learn more about this book, other books, and also your research work, where’s the best place for them to go and do that?
David Galenson 32:00
You know, a number of I mean, all of my articles are available online. And my books, of course, are available on Amazon.
James Taylor 32:09
We’re gonna have all the links here for you. David, thank you so much for joining us today.
David Galenson 32:12
Thank you very much.
– Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity