Here I am interviewed in Tank magazine about my article “An Economic Theory of Avant-Garde and Popular Art, or High and Low Culture,” co-authored with Alex. Excerpt:
EM: Your essay contains one of the most interesting footnotes I’ve ever read: “The interactions between the quantity and subjective quality of art are similar to the interactions analysed by Becker and Lewis (1973) between the quantity and quality of children.”
TC: Becker’s work considered how families might regard “more investment in each child” as a replacement for “having lots of children”, and that is indeed a common substitution as economic development proceeds. Analytically, we can think of artworks as similar to children in this regard. Quality, in the sense of an artist pleasing himself or herself, can substitute for quantity. Syd Barrett perhaps knew he had nowhere left to go, aesthetically. Proust and Cervantes didn’t need to write so many other works, perhaps because they felt satisfied with how thoroughly they expressed their visions through what they did. Balzac took a different course and achieved a different kind of creative satisfaction, yet precisely for that reason he may resonate less with people today than the more idiosyncratic visions of Proust or Cervantes.
The original article you will find here.