Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity by David W. GalensonOld Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity by David W. Galenson

Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity

byDavid W. Galenson

Paperback | December 2, 2007

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When in their lives do great artists produce their greatest art? Do they strive for creative perfection throughout decades of painstaking and frustrating experimentation, or do they achieve it confidently and decisively, through meticulous planning that yields masterpieces early in their lives?


By examining the careers not only of great painters but also of important sculptors, poets, novelists, and movie directors, Old Masters and Young Geniuses offers a profound new understanding of artistic creativity. Using a wide range of evidence, David Galenson demonstrates that there are two fundamentally different approaches to innovation, and that each is associated with a distinct pattern of discovery over a lifetime.


Experimental innovators work by trial and error, and arrive at their major contributions gradually, late in life. In contrast, conceptual innovators make sudden breakthroughs by formulating new ideas, usually at an early age. Galenson shows why such artists as Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Jackson Pollock, Virginia Woolf, Robert Frost, and Alfred Hitchcock were experimental old masters, and why Vermeer, van Gogh, Picasso, Herman Melville, James Joyce, Sylvia Plath, and Orson Welles were conceptual young geniuses. He also explains how this changes our understanding of art and its past.


Experimental innovators seek, and conceptual innovators find. By illuminating the differences between them, this pioneering book provides vivid new insights into the mysterious processes of human creativity.

David W. Galenson is a professor in the Department of Economics and the College at the University of Chicago, and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is the author of several books, including Painting Outside the Lines: Patterns of Creativity in Modern Art.
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Title:Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic CreativityFormat:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9.25 × 6 × 0.62 inPublished:December 2, 2007Publisher:Princeton University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0691133808

ISBN - 13:9780691133805

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Tables ix

Preface xi





INTRODUCTION 1





CHAPTER 1: Theory 4

Experimental and Conceptual Innovators 4

Archetypes 5

Planning, Working, and Stopping 11

Innovation and Age: Old Masters and Young Geniuses 14

Artists, Scholars, and Art Scholars 15





CHAPTER 2: Measurement 21

Quantifying Artistic Success 21

Prices 21

Textbook Illustrations 25

Examples: Ten Important Modern Painters 27

Retrospective Exhibitions 33

Examples: Ten Important American Painters 35

Museum Collections 40

Museum Exhibition 42

Measuring Careers 44





CHAPTER 3: Extensions 47

The Spectrum of Approaches 47

Can Artists Change? 56

Anomalies 61





CHAPTER 4: Implications 67

Masters and Masterpieces 67

The Impressionists'Challenge to the Salon 71

Masterpieces without Masters 73

Contrasting Careers 80

Conflicts 82

The Globalization of Modern Art 86





CHAPTER 5: Before Modern Art 94





CHAPTER 6: Beyond Painting 111

Sculptors 111

Poets 122

Novelists 134

Movie Directors 149





CHAPTER 7: Perspectives 162

Portraits of the Artist as an Experimental or Conceptual Innovator 162

Portraits of the Artist as a Young or Old Innovator 166

Psychologists on the Life Cycles of Creativity 171

Understanding and Increasing Creativity 177

Seekers and Finders 185





Notes 187

Bibliography 207

Index 223


Editorial Reviews

"An intriguing book."--The Age (Sunday Edition)