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Why Are Artists Poor?: The Exceptional Economy of the Arts Paperback – March 17, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-9053565650 ISBN-10: 9053565655 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 367 pages
  • Publisher: Amsterdam University Press; 1 edition (March 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9053565655
  • ISBN-13: 978-9053565650
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #950,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Hans Abbing is a painter, a photographer and an economist. As an economist he lectures at the Faculty of History and Arts at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

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78 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Stiller on October 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
The author of this book is both an economist and a painter/photographer, and thus highly qualified to write on this subject. His main argument is that art is quasi-sacred, and for that reason both its practitioners and its consumers are loath to think that it is "about" commerce or commodity exchanges. Most money that flows to the arts does so in the form of gifts (not just grants and donations, but family support and even individual artists subsidizing their own art with funds from a day job). Even outright sales are disguised to resemble gifts. The only learned profession with lower incomes than the arts is the clergy, who operate on similar lines, for similar reasons. Artists who make a lot of money become suspect in the eyes of peers and critics (case in point: Salvador Dali).
Artists use grant money to quit their day jobs while remaining as poor as ever. Abbing argues at length that European-style subsidies merely encourage more people to enter the arts, thereby actually increasing the number of poor artists without ameliorating the plight of the profession as a whole. The main value of such subsidies is to the government (prestige, status, and I would add though Abbing doesn't: appeasement of the intelligentsia)
Abbing's basic argument is a persuasive one, at the very least thought-provoking in an area all in and near the arts need to think about more than we have in the past (Abbing argues that young people enter the arts blindly because it is not in the interests of the arts community to inform them of huge unlikelihood of any one of them actually succeeding as an artist).
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