Why Are Artists Poor?
Why Are Artists Poor?
The Exceptional Economy of the Arts
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Table of Contents - 6 Preface - 12 1 Sacred Art: Who Has the Power to Define Art? - 18 2 The Denial of the Economy: Why Are Gifts to the Arts Praised, While Market Incomes Remain Suspect? - 35 3 Economic Value Versus Aesthetic Value: Is There Any Financial Reward for Quality? - 53 4 The Selflessly Devoted Artist: Are Artists Reward-Oriented? - 79 5 Money for the Artist: Are Artists Just Ill-Informed Gamblers? - 104 6 Structural Poverty: Do Subsidies and Donations Increase Poverty? - 125 7 The Cost Disease: Do Rising Costs in the Arts Make Subsidization - 153 8 The Power and the Duty to Give: Why Give to the Arts? - 182 9 The Government Serves Art: Do Art Subsidies Serve the Public Interest - 204 10 Art Serves the Government: How Symbiotic Is the Relationship between Art - 233 11 Informal Barriers Structure the Arts: How Free or Monopolized Are the Arts? - 260 12 Conclusion: a Cruel Economy: Why Is the Exceptional Economy of the Arts - 281 Epilogue: the Future Economy of the Arts - 296 Notes - 312 Literature - 350 Index of Names - 362

Hans Abbing

Why Are Artists Poor?

The Exceptional Economy of the Arts

Most artists earn very little. Nevertheless, there is no shortage of aspiring young artists. Do they give to the arts willingly or unknowingly? Governments and other institutions also give to the arts, to raise the low incomes. But their support is ineffective: subsidies only increase the artists’ poverty.
The economy of the arts is exceptional. Although the arts operate successfully in the marketplace, their natural affinity is with gift-giving, rather than with commercial exchange. People believe that artists are selflessly dedicated to art, that price does not reflect quality, and that the arts are free. But is it true?
This unconventional multidisciplinary analysis explains the exceptional economy of the arts. Insightful illustrations from the practice of a visual artist support the analysis.

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Hans Abbing

Hans Abbing is a visual artist and economist. He is professor emeritus in art sociology at the University of Amsterdam.