General info and summary

Hans Abbing. The Economies of Serious and Popular Art. How they diverged and reunited.


Obtaining the book
Using this link most people with a university affiliation can download a pdf of the book for free or buy a softcover for less than 40 euro. This is almost certain when the university has an economics department.
Others: try to find somebody who can download the pdf from their university library while using this link. Otherwise the price of a pdf or a hardcover book is relatively high. For others there is no softcover.

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Combining an economic perspective with sociological and historic insights, this book investigates the separation of ‘popular’ and ‘serious’ art over a period of almost two centuries. As the boundaries between our perceptions of established art and popular become more porous, Abbing considers questions such as: Who benefitted from the separation? Why is exclusivity in the established arts so important? Did exclusivity lead to high cost, high subsidies and high prices? Were and are underprivileged groups excluded from art consumption and production? How did popular music become so successful in the second half of the twentieth century? Why does the art profession remain extraordinarily attractive for youngsters in spite of low incomes? The book also discusses the evolution of art in the twenty-first century, considering for example how the platform economy affects the arts, whether or not the established arts are joining the entertainment industry, and the current level of diversity in art. Written from the dual perspective of the author as an artist and social scientist, the book will be of interest for cultural economists and academics as well as artists and general readers interested in art.


Hans Abbing is a visual artist and economist. He is also Emeritus Professor in Art Sociology at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and teaches MA Cultural Economics and Cultural Entrepreneurship at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. His bestselling book Why are Artists Poor? The Exceptional Economy of the Arts (2002) has been translated into several languages and continues to be used in both undergraduate and postgraduate courses worldwide.