A new study has found that becoming a successful artist is more about who you know than how creative or original your art is.
Published by Columbia Business School and reported by Artsy, the research paper “The Art of Fame” maps the social networks of early 20th century abstract artists like Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, and Wassily Kandinsky. It found that the artists’ networks were more likely the reason that they succeeded professionally.
“Contrary to conventional literature, there was no statistical support for the relationship between an artist’s creativity and the fame they ultimately achieved,” the paper states.
“Those individuals who possessed a diverse set of personal friends and professional contacts from different industries (an artist in a ‘cosmopolitan’ network position) were statistically more likely to become famous.”
The study took its data from MoMa’s 2012 exhibition “Inventing Abstraction: 1910–1925.” To determine what made a work original, researchers got machine learning algorithms to rate how unique a piece was compared to a range of artworks from the 19th century. The study also had a group of art historians rank artworks based on based on originality and innovation.