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Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity Paperback – December 2, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Galenson's idea that creativity can be divided into these types--conceptual and experimental--has a number of important implications."--Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker

"David Galenson has developed something approaching a unified theory of art . . . [that] does a surprisingly good job of explaining the relative value of the world's great paintings. . . . While Mr. Galenson has been studying the art world over the last five years, all sorts of other fields have been engaged in their own debate about judgment versus rules. . . . When the traditionalists in these fields describe their skepticism of statistics, they sometimes make the argument that their craft is as much art as it is science. That's a nice line, but the next time you hear it, think back to Mr. Galenson's work. Even art, it turns out, has a good bit of science to it."--David Leonhardt, The New York Times

"After a decade of number crunching, Galenson, at the not-so-tender age of 55, has fashioned something audacious and controversial: a unified field theory of creativity. Not bad for a middle-aged guy. What have you done lately?"--Daniel Pink, Wired

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

From the Back Cover


"[A] really wonderful book. . . . There's something important to be learned about the way our minds work by entertaining the notion that there are two very different styles of creativity, the Picasso and the Cézanne."--Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink


"Beautifully written, well argued, and an exciting read, Old Masters and Young Geniuses is a strikingly novel interpretation of the creative process by a leading scholar in the economics of the arts. It realizes the exceedingly rare accomplishment of providing a fresh way of looking at the careers of the greatest artists of Western civilization."--William N. Goetzmann, documentary filmmaker, coauthor of The West of the Imagination, Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Finance, Yale School of Management


"A very well written and intellectually stimulating piece of scholarship that deserves to be widely read and debated."--Dean Keith Simonton, author of Creativity in Science: Chance, Logic, Genius, and Zeitgeist, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of California, Davis


"This extremely lucid, logical book is very much a voyage of discovery, exploring different ways of extending the author's theory of the two polar types of creative behavior to all forms of artistic and intellectual activity. As with all truly original work, it will be controversial."--Robert Jensen, author of Marketing Modernism in Fin-de-Siècle Europe, Associate Professor of Art History, University of Kentucky


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (December 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691133808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691133805
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #886,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The contrast between 'conceptual' and 'experimental' artists, the first being the prodigy- geniuses, and the second being the slow- developers is at the heart of this work. The idea is that the first kinds of creators work in accordance with a scheme, arrive at a kind of fixed solution. They usually do their greatest work when they are young. They are sure of themselves, and receive their idea and inspiration suddenly. The second learn through experience and never come to the kind of Certainty that the first do . Galenson contrasts F.S. Scott Fitzgerald who became famous overnight at the age of twenty- six with Mark Twain who wrote 'Huckleberry Finn' over a ten year period. He contrasts T.S Eliot who wrote 'Prufrock' and 'Wasteland' with Frost who came to his best work later in life. He contrasts film- directors Orson Welles who revolutionized film with 'Citizen Kane' when Welles was in his twenties, with John Ford whose whole body of work developed slowly and is richer towards the end. The prodigy Picasso is contrasted with the late- blooming, experimenting Cezanne. The distinction does give certain insight but is also extremely problematic. It ignores in the Picasso-Cezanne case the fact that Picasso experimented all his life, created many new styles, produced some of his greatest work including 'Guernica' when he is well out of his twenties.Is Wordsworth whose great poems came in his early years , not an experimental artist in those years? Did Wordsworth stop experimenting in the years when he wrote his longest, if not his greatest work, 'The Prelude?Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
As a creative artists who moves in slow incremental steps-searching, exploring, and experimenting-, I am much gratified to have Galenson's positive take on my plodding nature. It is the unknown that draws me forward (the experimental), not the laborious execution of a well thought-out scheme (the conceptual).

I have studied art and art history my entire life and Galenson has given me my first ever clear understanding of 'conceptual' art. I realize now that my own methods have little in common with most conceptual artists, much more in common with the 'experimental' artists of which he writes.

I find it quite refreshing and commendable that an Economics professor who comes from outside the insular field of art has delved so successfully into the minds of artists. Shouldn'd we all take more than a moment to step outside our own fields, get a fresh perspective on the world around us, and thus, on ourselves?

Kudos to professor Galenson for doing such a fine job of expanding our understanding of the creative mind, and for taking the risk to have a look from the outside.
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Format: Paperback
I'm a painter, and I often have been puzzled by the reactions of other artists to my work. Some critiques seemed on point; others were hard to understand. Old Masters and Young Geniuses has shown me the core reason for these inconsistent reactions - that different people approach art from two completely different mindsets. Whether to plan a lot before starting or to just start and see how things develop? Whether to try for a big, smashing result or to move consistently over time in an incremental way towards a challenging goal? Some successful artists do it one way; other successful artists do it the other way. This book makes that distinction in style and in process clear. It is a big achievement.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Galenson takes up an aspect of creativity that I have not encountered before: what accounts for the timing of an artist's success within his own developmental cycle. His explanation for the division he makes is persuasive both intellectually and on the basis of the data he presents. Having said that, his dualism arouses my distrust. I was hoping he might have more to say about an artist's development over time. Why do some artist's peak early and others ripen, apart from the nature of their innovation? Can old masters be geniuses too? Are there art forms that require mature development for success? What role does an artist's character play in the curve of his development? Perhaps I expected too much in one book. As a writer on the psychology of creativity, I am glad to have read this book.

Gregory T. Lombardo, MD, PhD.
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Format: Hardcover
This book would be of interest to artists and collectors. Enjoy. I couldn't put it down.
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