NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Toward Abstraction: Ranking European Painters of the Early Twentieth Century

David W. Galenson

NBER Working Paper No. 11501
Issued in August 2005
NBER Program(s):   LS

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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11501

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.

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