Father of Conceptual vs Experimental Theory of Creativity
David Galenson is professor of economics at the University of Chicago and research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He received his BA, MA, and PhD in economics from Harvard University. He has been a visiting professor at the California Institute of Technology, MIT, University of Texas at Austin, L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, American University of Paris, and Universidad del CEMA in Buenos Aires. Read More >
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? Read More >
By examining the careers not only of great painters but also of important sculptors, poets, novelists, and movie directors, this presentation 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. Read Less ^
From Picasso’s Cubism and Duchamp’s readymades to Warhol’s silkscreens and Smithson’s earthworks, the art of the twentieth century broke completely with earlier artistic traditions. A basic change in the market for advanced art produced a heightened demand for innovation, and young conceptual innovators – from Picasso and Duchamp to Rauschenberg and Warhol to Cindy Sherman and Damien Hirst – responded not only by creating dozens of new forms of art, but also by behaving in ways that would have been incomprehensible to their predecessors. Read More >
In this talk, Galenson presents the first systematic analysis of the reasons for this discontinuity. He combines social scientific methods with qualitative analysis to produce a fundamentally new interpretation of modern art that will give listeners a far deeper appreciation of the art of the past century and of today, than is available anywhere else. Read Less ^