Authentic Art and Artists

  • Hans Abbing


During the what I call “period of serious art” (circa 1880–1980) in an unsuccessful search for authenticity, self-expression and self-realization by bourgeois, art and artists offer a view on an attractive but unattainable alternative. Artists can be authentic while others cannot. This explains the high respect for art and artists as well as the respectful subdued and still behavior in the halls and museums, allowing people to embark on self-searching journeys. Later, along with informalization, an authentic live and self-determination appear to become within everybody’s reach, but not really. As a consequence, the attraction of the arts’ profession only increases and this leads to ever lower incomes of artists.

An obsession with authenticity, authorship and aura explains other economic phenomena as well. For instance, the obsession with a nominally authentic performance brings along a cost disease, which in the case of classical music contributes much to its decline. In popular art, it is technological innovations that counter the cost disease and promotes the development of new and innovative art.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Abbing
    • 1
  1. 1.AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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