It DOESN'T pay to be a tortured soul: Researchers find suffering artist's work sells for 35% less that their happier works

  • Authors studied prices of 10,000 paintings by 33 French impressionist artists?
  • Also looked at 2,000 paintings by 15 American artists??
  • Paintings created in the year following the death of a friend or relative saw a decrease in value of about 35 %

The term 'tortured artists' has been used to describe some of history's greatest painters, from Vincent Van Gogh and Henri de Tolousse-Lautrec to Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock.?

They are credited with creating some of the world's most recognized works of art despite lives that were often characterized by great emotional unrest and personal unhappiness.?

But does misery really beget valuable works of art??

One of Picasso's most colourful works, the golden muse, which sold for $45m in 2013. Researchers found his 'blue period' works sold for far less

One of Picasso's most colourful works, the golden muse, which sold for $45m in 2013. Researchers found his 'blue period' works sold for far less

According to a new study in the INFORMS journal Management Science, personal unhappiness, particularly that experienced in times of mourning or bereavement, can actually cause a significant decrease in the value of an artist's work.

The study, 'Death, Bereavement, and Creativity,' was conducted by Kathryn Graddy of Brandeis University and Carl Lieberman of Princeton University.?

The authors studied the prices of more than 10,000 paintings produced by 33 French impressionist artists and more than 2,000 paintings by 15 American artists born between 1900 and 1920, and their relation to the dates of death of the artists' friends and family members.

PICASSO'S BLUE PERIOD

In 1901, Pablo Picasso's good friend Carlos Casagemas committed suicide.

Many art historians believe that this event launched Picasso into his Blue Period of painting.

During this time, Picasso painted somber monochromatic works.

Paintings from Picasso's Blue Period have in the past achieved record prices at auction.

FEMME AUX BRAS CROISES..."Femme aux bras croises," painted in 1902 by Pablo Picasso during his Blue period, was to be sold at Christie's Auction House in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2000. The painting, with an estimated selling price of $25 million, was first owned by the American writer and art patron Gertrude Stein. (AP Photo/Christie's Auction House)...A

Left,'Femme aux bras croises,' painted in 1902 by Pablo Picasso during his Blue period, with an estimated selling price of $25 million. Right, a ?1903 portrait of his close friend Angel Fernandez de Soto

By looking at the sale and auction price of these artists' works from 1972 to 2014, the authors found that any paintings created in the year following the death of a friend or relative saw a decrease in value of about 35 percent compared to the rest of the artist's catalog.?

The authors also found that there was no statistically significant difference in terms of whether the death involved a parent, a sibling, or a friend, and this decrease in the value of their work typically did not extend beyond that one-year time frame.

In 1901, Pablo Picasso's good friend Carlos Casagemas committed suicide, which many believe led to his 'blue period'

In 1901, Pablo Picasso's good friend Carlos Casagemas committed suicide, which many believe led to his 'blue period'

In addition to studying the impact of bereavement on the cost of paintings, the authors also reviewed the likelihood of a painting being included in a museum collection.?

By gathering information on all paintings created by the artists included in the study that are in the collections of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Musée d'Orsay, the authors found that artwork painted in the first year following the death of a spouse, child, sibling, or friend were much less likely to be included in a museum collection.

'Our analysis reflects that artists, in the year following the death of a friend or relative, are on average less creative than at other times in their lives,' said Graddy.

'Paintings that were created in the year following a death fetch significantly less at auction than those created at other times in an artist's life, and are significantly less likely to be included in a major museum's collection.'

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