Historically, economists have had very little to say about art: in the latter half of this century, that has begun to change. Difficult issues, like pricing and art valuation, the influence on pricing by what is fashionable in art, and the nature of the auction, have recently been tackled by economists in spite of elusive answers. Economic Engagements with Art suggests that taste and fashion in art need not be mysterious or outside rational discourse, and that they can be studied by economists to the great benefit of the discipline. This volume, which deals mostly with painting, is divided into three sections that consider the interplay between art and economics from different perspectives. In the first section, Art and Economic Theory, economists clarify the need to construct a framework for understanding the roles of taste and fashion in art valuation. A historical view is considered in a piece about the teacher of Velasquez and artistic adviser to the Inquisition in Seville, who took into account not only market factors, like demand, but also the "truth" and the nobility of the artist’s profession and of the painting itself. Also in this section is an essay on Rousseau’s perspective on the worth of a painting based on its envy value in social circles; other contributions focus on William Stanley Jevons, a nineteenth century British political economist, whose problems with art stemmed from the uniqueness of each work, rendering definitive market and economic terms irrelevant. The second section of the book, Art and Economic Policy, looks at broader policy issues with regard to the historical role of art. Essays consider policy with respect to art exports and imports and federal patronage of the arts during theDepression; Lionel Robbins and the political economy of art; and the interplay among economy, architecture, and politics as shown in certain postwar Hilton hotels. In the final section, The Business of Art, a variety of perspectives are considered: the economics of art in early modern times, discussed in the context of both humanist and scholastic approaches; the pricing of pictures based on a study of the Smith-Reynolds connection; and the relationships between Otto Nuerath, graphic art, and the social order. The first collaborative and historical treatment of the connection between art and economics, Economic Engagements with Art will appeal to people across, from history and economics to art history. Contributors. Márcia Balisciano, William J. Barber, Neil de Marchi, Bertil Fridén, Crauford D. Goodwin, Guido Guerzoni, Robert J. Leonard, Harro Maas, Ernest Mathijs, Steven G. Medema, Bert Mosselmans, Zarinés Negrón, Marcia Pointon, Helen Rees, Toon van Houdt, Annabel Wharton, Sara Zablotney
Published in 1989, Philip Mirowski’s More Heat Than Light: Economics as Social Physics, Physic’s as Nature’s Economics offered a challenge to historians of economics that could not be ignored. Neo-classical economics, he said, adopted certain analytical tools of mid-nineteenth-century physics, simply substituting “utility” for “energy,” and in so doing, chose a natural-world model which denied that economic knowledge might be essentially social and cultural. The essays in this collection represent the first collective effort to respond to Mirowski’s challenge by examining and assessing the Mirowski enterprise. In addition to questioning the veracity of the connection between physics and economics, the contributors consider the far-reaching implications of Mirowski’s thesis for the history of economics. Mirowski shows that economic texts must be viewed in their relation to texts outside the field of economics and offers an alternative reading of economic texts as social and cultural inscriptions. As historians of economics respond to Mirowski’s challenge, the style and direction of their work will be changed. Utlimately, a careful assessment of More Heat Than Light may introduce historians of economics to recognize that the “discipline” of economics may not be the most appropriate category from which to proceed.
Contributors. Jack Birner, Marcel Boumans, A. W. Coats, Avi J. Cohen, I. Bernard Cohen, Neil de Marchi, Steve Fuller, Clifford G. Gaddy, Wade Hands, Albert Jolink, Arjo Klamer, Robert Leonard, Philip Mirowski, Theodore M. Porter, Margaret Schabas, E. Roy Weintraub