David Galenson

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David W. Galenson

David Walter Galenson (born June 20, 1951) is a professor in the Department of Economics and the College at the University of Chicago, and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He has been a visiting professor at the California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Texas at Austin, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and the American University of Paris. He is the Academic Director of the Center for Creativity Economics, which was inaugurated in 2010 at the Universidad del CEMA, Buenos Aires.[1][citation needed]

He is the son of economists Marjorie and Walter Galenson.[2] He attended Phillips Academy.[3] He then studied at Harvard College for both his undergraduate and graduate education, completing his PhD in 1979.


Galenson is known for postulating a new theory of artistic creativity.[4] Based on a study of the ages at which various innovative artists made their greatest contributions to the field, Galenson's theory divides all artists into two classes: conceptualists, who make radical innovations in their field at a very early age; and experimentalists, whose innovations develop slowly over a long period of experimentation and refinement.[citation needed][5]

Although Galenson initially developed his theory from data solely concerning the visual arts, he has since also investigated conceptual and experimental innovators among poets, novelists, film makers, popular musicians and economists.[6][7] Elias et al (2020)[8] combines Galenson´s approach with Paul Romer approach to innovation to analize innovations and innovators in the Argentine wine industry.

Among the examples Galenson cites of conceptualists are:

Among the examples he gives of experimentalists are:

In 2008, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in fine arts research.

Comics theorist Scott McCloud seems to have anticipated some aspects of Galenson's theory in his 1993 book Understanding Comics.[citation needed]

He talks about his ideas in the Shaping Business Minds Through Art podcast in 2020.[10]


Galenson's distinction between conceptual and experimental is based upon evidence from the age in which artists were most productive creatively. However, other studies have challenged that the underlying cause is not age, but are due to artistic movements which occur in certain periods. Artists in artistic movements tend to be creative regardless of their age.[11] Thus, Galenson's theory has been criticized for overemphasizing the individual and overlooking the collective aspects in supporting creativity.


  1. ^ "David W. Galenson".
  2. ^ Galenson, David W. White Servitude in Colonial America
  3. ^ http://pdf.phillipian.net/1968/03061968.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  4. ^ David W. Galenson (2006). Artistic Capital. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-415-70171-6.
  5. ^ David Galenson (27 December 2005). Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-12109-5.
  6. ^ Pink, Daniel H. "What Kind of Genius are You?" Wired . 148-53,166.
  7. ^ Julio Elías, Gustavo Ferro, and Alvaro Garcia, 2019."A Quest for Quality: Creativity and Innovation in the Wine Industry of Argentina" Asociación Argentina de Economía Política: Working Papers 4135.
  8. ^ Julio Elías, Alvaro Garcia, Gustavo Ferro, and Carmine De Salvo , 2020."Knowledge and Innovation Analysis in the Wine Industry in Argentina" Inter-American Development Bank.
  9. ^ Pink, Daniel H. "What Kind of Genius are You?" Wired . 152-53.
  10. ^ #9 David Galenson. Experimental and Conceptual Innovators - Shaping Business Minds Through Art - The Artian Podcast, retrieved 2021-02-26
  11. ^ Accominotti, Fabien (2009). "Creativity from interaction: Artistic movements and the creativity careers of modern painters". Poetics. 37 (3): 267–294. doi:10.1016/j.poetic.2009.03.005.

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