Is the World Flat or Round? Mapping Changes in the Taste for Art

Swann, Peter (2001). Is the World Flat or Round? Mapping Changes in the Taste for Art. UNU-MERIT Research Memoranda. UNU-MERIT.

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  • Sub-type Working paper
    Author Swann, Peter
    Title Is the World Flat or Round? Mapping Changes in the Taste for Art
    Series Title UNU-MERIT Research Memoranda
    Volume/Issue No. 9
    Publication Date 2001
    Publisher UNU-MERIT
    Language eng
    Abstract This paper is a preliminary attempt to map the changing tastes for works of art as manifested in the prices of paintings sold at auction. There are two main goals in this work: first, to describe a space in which we can represent the work of different artists; and second, to describe how cultivated taste"" moves around that space. It presents a method of analysing ""waves"" in popularity, and applies this to data on the prices of works of art during the period 1840-1970. It extends traditional methods of mapping points in n-dimensional constellations onto a plane, showing instead how to locate these points on the surface of a sphere. This can make it easier to explain and interpret some of the observed trends in taste. A result of considerable power and great simplicity is derived: for two products located on the surface of a sphere, the correlation between their prices is equal to the cosine of the angle between them - as measured from the centre of the sphere. The paper - a companion to Cowan''s (2001) paper in this series - also draws out some of the relationships between this economic analysis and some leading themes in art history and art theory."
    Copyright Year 2001
    Copyright type All rights reserved
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    Created: Fri, 13 Dec 2013, 13:00:46 JST