Study Finds Artists Become Famous through Their Friends, Not the Originality of Their Work
Art Business

Study Finds Artists Become Famous through Their Friends, Not the Originality of Their Work

In a 2012 exhibition about the birth of abstraction at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, curators highlighted the way that the artists may have influenced one another. Titled “Inventing Abstraction: 1910–1925,” the show illustrated over 80 artists’ radical departures from the traditions of representational art, and opened with a large diagram depicting their network to show who knew each other (an interactive version of which is online), with the most connected, like Pablo Picasso and Wassily Kandinsky , toward the center. While working on the show with her colleagues, exhibition curator Leah Dickerman (now MoMA’s director of editorial and content strategy) was influenced in part by a course she had taken with Columbia Business School professor and Chazen Senior Scholar Paul Ingram, which was about how curators can use their professional networks to achieve success. Ingram helped to develop an early iteration of the network of early pioneers of abstraction, and later, he used the same data to embark on a new investigation. Ingram and his colleague Mitali Banerjee, of HEC Paris, used MoMA’s findings to examine the role that creativity and social networks played for these artists, in relationship to the level of fame they […]

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