Why Are Artists Poor?: The Exceptional Economy of the Arts
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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.
worked hard to reach their present level of wealth.18 The first, who are born into wealth, need to legitimize their money more. Also corporations, whose policies are criticized, are continuously searching for ways to strengthen their integrity. The fact that most major 190 T H E P O W E R A N D T H E D U T Y T O G I V E Why are artisits poor? 02-04-2002 12:15 Pagina 191 tobacco corporations are larger collectors and supporters of art than other food industry corporations confirms the
painting is handed over to the buyer, for which the painter receives money. Second, reallocation can result from gifts. When a composer receives a stipend, money is shifted from donor to recipient. Finally, forced transfers can 38 T H E D E N I A L O F T H E E C O N O M Y Why are artisits poor? 02-04-2002 12:15 Pagina 39 also lead to reallocation. Visual artists, for instance, are obliged to pay value-added tax and thus, funds move from artists to the taxman. Market transactions and
University in Rotterdam. Hans Abbing Why Are PostScript-illustratie Artists Poor? (ISBN 90-5356-565-5) The Exceptional Economy of the Arts Who but Hans Abbing could write such a book, combining penetrating economic analysis and a studio-level grasp of what’s really going in the art world? And it is openhandedly written, accessible to lay people of all sorts? Whether non- economists or non-artists. A triumph, and a sure best-seller. Deirdre McCloskey Pro ffesor of Ec onomics, Unive
accountant, has a remotely comparable annual income.4 5 The annual celebrity top 100 that Forbes publishes every year includes 40 athletes and 40 so-called ‘entertainers’. (Apart from a few television personalities like Oprah Winfrey, the ‘entertainers’ group consists only of artists.) The average income of ‘artists and other entertainers’ on the list turns out to be five times higher than that of the athletes. It should be noted however, that the income gap between artists and athletes
tends to be ill-informed about the arts (thesis 39) . The main (mis)informing myths that surround the arts are the myth of 120 M O N E Y F O R T H E A RT I S T Why are artisits poor? 02-04-2002 12:15 Pagina 121 the sacredness of the arts and the related myth of the possibility of relat- ing to a sacred world through the arts. Most of the other myths or popu- lar beliefs emanate from the sacredness of art. Five interrelated myths are particularly misleading when it comes to deciding