Art in Dollars and Sense

Benefits of Art

Some People Like Art

You are reading an economist writing in the 1980s. How does it feel? Woke? Sensible? This is page 75.
The good thing about Grampp in this book is that he’ll drop relevant art history in like it was obvious and you should have thought of it yourself first. Page 60.

Artworks as assets

Art establishes character

The westward movement of art. Page 231

Art’s hard to define value

The Artist’s Hustle

Organizations Supporting the Arts


Some good details on arrangements of patronage. Page 47





Cultural Industries

  • the small number of buyers and sellers of art make the fine art market oligopolistic
  • an artwork has some social status value, artistic value in the history of art, and an actual price. Galleries care about the first, experts the second, and buyers the third
  • the art market is a great place for money laundering and tax evasion
  • artworks have relatively high “uncertainty of value” compared to many things, because even a great artist can make a total dud
  • artworks as commodities can be distinguished in an infinite number of ways, whereas most commodities compete on just a few characteristics
  • prices of art tend to be fairly “winner-take-all” with the top hits making a lot of money and the next most popular having much less value. Income distribution among artists tends to be very unequal.
  • there is an excessive supply of artists, so they can often be hired for very low wages
  • most cultural items lose value really fast, and are worth nothing within a decade
  • artwork has high fixed costs, getting a studio and developing talent etc, while the marginal cost of making reproductions can be very low

If No One Chooses Art, Why Have It?

  1. One person pays for everything
  2. Many people pay more than they realize to support an art project
  3. Many people support an art project intentionally
Those associated with an art project at Burning Man are compensated in social capital, which gets you everywhere in a world without money.





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Chuk Moran

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