Toward Abstraction: Ranking European Painters of the Early Twentieth Century
NBER Working Paper No. 11501
Paris was the undisputed capital of modern art in the nineteenth century, but during the early
twentieth century major innovations began to occur elsewhere in Europe. This paper examines the
careers of the artists who led such movements as Italian Futurism, German Expressionism, Holland's
De Stijl, and Russia's Suprematism. Quantitative analysis reveals the conceptual basis of the art of
Umberto Boccioni, Giorgio de Chirico, Kazimir Malevich, and Edvard Munch, and the experimental
basis of the innovations of Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Piet Mondrian. That the invention of
abstract art was made nearly simultaneously by the conceptual Malevich and the experimental
Kandinsky and Mondrian emphasizes the importance of both deductive and inductive approaches
in the history of modern art.
Published: Galenson, David W. "Toward Abstraction Ranking European Painters of the Early Twentieth Century." Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History 39, 3 (Summer 2006): 99-111.