Let's find out!
Vincent Van Gogh, Henri de Tolousse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock--the greatest painters known to be 'tortured artists' as their works show great emotional unrest and personal unhappiness. This leads us to a question, does it actually pay to be a tortured soul?
Recent study entitled 'Death, Bereavement, and Creativity,' was conducted by Kathryn Graddy of Brandeis University and Carl Lieberman of Princeton University. There, they've looked into more than 10,000 paintings produced by 33 French impressionist artists and more than 2,000 paintings by 15 American artists born between 1900 and 1920. Specifically, they've studied their prices and connected it to the painters' friends and family members' deaths.
With this, they found that those painted a year after the death of a friend or relative had a decreased value of about 35 percent. Moreover, they've also looked into these paintings' likelihood of being included in a museum collection. They've reviewed all the paintings of the artists included in the study and checked if these are in the collections of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Musée d'Orsay.
And, you got that right, those painted the year following the death of a friend or relative were much less likely to be included! 'Our analysis reflects that artists, in the year following the death of a friend or relative, are on average less creative than at other times in their lives,' said Graddy.
'Paintings that were created in the year following a death fetch significantly less at auction than those created at other times in an artist's life, and are significantly less likely to be included in a major museum's collection.'
So, it could be safe to say that personal unhappiness can decrease the value of an artist's work. And, no, misery won't pay!
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