What kind of an artist are you?

Found the link to this great article on the blog, The Accidental Artist. David Pink has written a very interesting article “What kind of a genius are you?” for Wired. It is about David Galenson’s research on creativity and how he sorts people into two types, essentially – early geniuses (conceptualists) and late bloomers (experimentalists). Galenson has concentrated on the field of art. His research focuses on artists, their work, the money they commanded and the age at which it peaked.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) – Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. 1907. Oil on canvas.

Paul Cezzane (1839-1906) – The Smoker. Oil on canvas. c. 1895-1900. Oil on canvas.

avignon.jpg cezanne47-copy.JPG

Picasso and Cézanne represent radically different approaches to creation. Picasso thought through his works carefully before he put brush to paper. Like most conceptualists, he figured out in advance what he was trying to create. The underlying idea was what mattered; the rest was mere execution. The hallmark of conceptualists is certainty. They know what they want. And they know when they’ve created it. Cézanne was different. He rarely preconceived a work. He figured out what he was painting by actually painting it. “Picasso signed virtually everything he ever did immediately,” Galenson says. “Cézanne signed less than 10 percent.” Experimentalists never know when their work is finished.Galenson says. “But from very early in my career, I knew I could do really good work. I didn’t know exactly how, and I didn’t know when. I just had this vague feeling that my work was going to improve.”

You can see few artists listed by type. If you read the article let me know if you think you veer towards either of these types. Since I cant be a young genius at my age, i’m hoping that I’m an experimentalist 😀


8 thoughts on “What kind of an artist are you?

  1. Wow… It makes me think. what he has done is to divide artists in the categories which I would name the “planners” and the “spontaneous”. You see people falling on either of those categories every day. The first ones are either controlling, demanding, rigid, have high expectations, etc. The second ones are aloof, “spontaneous”, flexible, do nto have high expectations (that why he signed 10% of his work only), etc… They are opposites. It is very interesting and I bet the first lot earned more money in their lives with their art than the second lot. Am I right? I would like to know, so please comment when you can.

  2. Galenson extended his findings from artists to people in general. Initially he’d divided people into these two types but later he saw that it was actually a continuum. People tended towards one or the other type.

    As per the article the conceptualists were almost one hit wonders and usually could not beat that first great thing that they had achieved and their fame and highest rewards came then and they found it difficult to replicate. This was their high point and there was decline after. The experimentalists built upon their learning very slowly and peaked later in life. Nothing for a long long time and then 20-30 years later they commanded their highest prices.

    Do read the article. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. I’ve edited the post to point to the article more clearly now.

  3. Galenson is MILES off base when he says Picasso knew what he wanted, planned everything and then just executed his plan. Anyone who has seen Pierre Renoir’s film, “The Mystery of Picasso,” can see that Picasso began his paintings with a general idea and then painted and re-painted ceaselessly. His work was always provisional and subject to massive changes and revisions at any point in the process. A great many Picasso’s have many other painted versions laying beneath the final result. His works from Cubism on were all about “finding” the painting through the process of painting itself.

  4. I would posit that Picasso (and Braque) was both a conceptualist and experimentalist. Had he not tinkered with representing form simultaneously perceived from many viewpoints on a single plane, nor had the original idea to begin his explorations of this “problem” we would never have had cubism. Maybe the definition of ealy and late-peakers may be a more useful way for Galenson to support his theory.

  5. That’s very interesting information. I guess I might be an “early bloomer”…is that a real word?…anyway, I started at 13, but I don’t know about using the label “genius”.
    I’m not a big fan of Picasso unfortunately…but I do like the fact that he apparently “winged” it. Like the other poster said (Don Gray), he had a general idea of what he wanted and then once he started painting it would take on a life of it’s own.

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