Why Are Artists Poor?: The Exceptional Economy of the Arts

Why Are Artists Poor?: The Exceptional Economy of the Arts

Hans Abbing

Language: English

Pages: 367

ISBN: 9053565655

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Most artists earn very little. Nevertheless, there is no shortage of aspiring young artists. Do they give to the arts willingly or unknowingly? Governments and other institutions also give to the arts, to raise the low incomes. But their support is ineffective: subsidies only increase the artists' poverty.

The economy of the arts is exceptional. Although the arts operate successfully in the marketplace, their natural affinity is with gift-giving, rather than with commercial exchange. People believe that artists are selflessly dedicated to art, that price does not reflect quality, and that the arts are free. But is it true?

This unconventional multidisciplinary analysis explains the exceptional economy of the arts. Insightful illustrations from the practice of a visual artist support the analysis.



















the scien- tist, however, the artist is more like a magician. This explains why art is more likely to be viewed as sacred than science. But although art is thought to belong to a sacred world, it also has strong ties with Mammon. The following chapter examines the consequences of having ties with both the sacred world and the world of money. Discussion 1 Is there an underlying ordering of works of art, which is largely shared within a certain culture? 2 Is it true that an asymmetry in

the various groups is largely offset by one another. Therefore, the actions of these groups primarily informed governments and so could potentially improve a democracy. Later Lindblom and others revised their opinion. The notion how- ever, that pressure groups also inform the government is still essential to public choice theory. 48 Cf. Buchanan (1962). 49 Grampp (1989a) presents a thorough discussion of the rent seeking theory as applied to the arts. Grampp adds two conditions I do not

there had been. 14 Anheier and Gerhards (1991) remark that a status indeterminacy exists in the arts. 15 IJdens (1999) 221-231 remarks that the arts as a profession is self-made and not institutionalized. Kempers (1987) examined the ups and downs in the process of professionalization in the arts. He speaks of de- and reprofessionalization. 16 In the case of the fair, the barrier was more than just a price barrier. Even con- sidering the high entrance fees, many more galleries applied to be

two values certainly does not imply a one-way influence, i.e., that market value is ‘ I N T H E M A R K E T T H E R E I S N O R E WA R D F O R Q U A L I T Y ’ 57 Why are artisits poor? 02-04-2002 12:15 Pagina 58 determined by aesthetic value. They depend on one another. In his view, aesthetic value cannot be an independent value as it also depends on eco- nomic variables such as relative scarcity. For instance, Grampp suggests that if Rembrandt had produced even fewer self-portraits both

internal rewards were reduced to internalized external rewards, as we 90 T H E S E L F L E S S Y D E V O T E D A RT I S T Why are artisits poor? 02-04-2002 12:15 Pagina 91 implied in the previous section, the outside world would completely determine behavior. Individuals would have no choice. (And so we must conclude that in both these views the terms ‘selfish’ and ‘selfless’ are basi- cally meaningless.) In order to develop a better understanding of the relation between intrinsic and

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