Science Says Narcissism Pays

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Picasso’s signature Image: Wikimedia Commons

Looking for a blockbuster piece of art investment advice? Here’s one: “It is more profitable to invest in the artworks of more narcissistic artists.”

That a line from a new paper in the European Journal of Finance by Yi Zhou, a Florida State University professor who studies empirical asset pricing.

“You know, my data does support that: Narcissistic artists will have higher prices and they will have more recognition in the art world,” Zhou told me earlier today in a phone interview. “If I had a large pool of money, I am pretty confident that this result holds strongly.”

Maybe it’s no surprise that art actually rewards the self-absorbed. But how to prove it?

Zhou’s answer: Measure their signatures.

I’m no scientist, and this strikes me as shallow at the very least.  There is one thing I can seriously agree with though:

Zhou cites one definition of clinical Narcissistic Personality Disorder: “an exaggerated sense of entitlement, exploitative tendencies, empathy deficits, and a need for excessive admiration.” Sounds like behavior that is rewarded in the art world to me!

Yep, absolutely. If you’re looking for pretentious assholes, the art world is a great place to find them.

Broken Light: A Photography Collective

Photo taken by contributor Kyle Anderson, a man from Saskatchewan, Canada. Kyle is a health care professional in his forties who has battled depression and addiction for most of his life. He escapes by letting the camera become his mind’s eye, and hopes that each photo he takes allows others to see the world as he sees it, even for a split second. About this photo: “Selfie. Who is the one that is really seeing a distortion? Is it you or I?”

Photo taken by contributor Kyle Anderson, a man from Saskatchewan, Canada. Kyle is a health care professional in his forties who has battled depression and addiction for most of his life. He escapes by letting the camera become his mind’s eye, and hopes that each photo he takes allows others to see the world as he sees it, even for a split second.
About this photo: “Selfie. Who is the one that is really seeing a distortion? Is it you or I?

The Broken Light Collective, the online photography gallery for people affected by mental illness. Broken Light’s main goal is to create a safe and accepting environment where photographers of all levels who are affected by mental health issues can display their work, as well as inspire one another to keep going and keep creating, despite the dark or scary places in which they may find themselves.

I think it’s important to remember that art has an important place in helping people cope with serious illness and problems. Myself, I know how much focusing on photography can get me through very bad times with PTSD, and how much art work can help in not focusing on every day physical pain. There are times when the physical pain I deal with is enough that I just want to stop altogether, because pain is my whole landscape. Those are times when channeling all that into art is the only thing that saves me. Life is a struggle for so many, and art can ease that struggle a great deal.  Being involved in art work, especially with others who are coping with illness can provide strength and a necessary social connection, as well as helping to fight off the internal and external stigmas of mental illness.

Shooting in Ramallah

This is part of the Tania Bruguera Crowdfunding Initiative. This is one use of guns I approve of wholeheartedly.

Take the workshop the Palestinian Jarrar has designed, for instance: It will use both the artist’s background as an ex-bodyguard for the late chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, and the current penchant of Cuban police to violently repress the free speech of their fellow citizens. “I want to teach them how to use their weapons to make Jackson Pollock-style abstract paintings,” Jarrar says when reached by phone in Ramallah. “Many armies and police forces are taught that they are superior to their fellow citizens. The idea with this workshop will be for the police to recognize themselves in other people and to control their aggression in order to make it productive.”

Sunday Facepalm

WESLACO – A Weslaco firefighter said an image of Jesus Christ appeared on one of the fire truck’s mats after being cleaned Friday.

“Considering the times that I’ve seen it before on TV or it’s posted because people have come across it, I always thought it was something nice something to believe in. I never imagined Imyself would have come across it and with my additional co-workers here, we honestly feel like its a blessing.”

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Beauty Everywhere

Claudia Bicen shows the deep beauty of age, of impermanence. I’ve always had a deep and abiding love for Vanitas work, but I think there’s a tendency to show humans in vanitas only as skulls, or what detritus they may have left behind. Perhaps it’s in self defense that we skim over aging, in every day life as well as art. As an aging person, I’m all for seeing the beautiful in age, rather than looking away or being engaged in a desperate fight to fob it off. Bicen’s work is exquisite, go have a look.

Tat tvam asi - Pastel on wood block 12" x 12" - © Claudia Biçen 2013 Gauntlet Gallery, Visions & Reflections Group Exhibition (SOLD) Editor's Award - Portrait Competition 2013 - www.myartcontest.com

Tat tvam asi – Pastel on wood block 12″ x 12″ – © Claudia Biçen 2013
Gauntlet Gallery, Visions & Reflections Group Exhibition (SOLD)
Editor’s Award – Portrait Competition 2013 – www.myartcontest.com

Art withdrawn

Denver Student's Art Work, withdrawn

Denver Student’s Art Work, withdrawn

A 10th grade Denver student withdrew her work after receiving criticism from police. There’s insistence that this was done voluntarily, and it most likely was, but it both pains and infuriates me that the artist felt the need to do so. It’s not as if police killings, especially those where the victims are non-white people are some sort of rare event here in the States. The work seems self evident to me, but according to the meeting with the mayor and chief of police:

“I wanted to know from that perspective exactly what are you saying and what can you share with me that I can share with the men and women of the police department to kind of correct what that artwork portrayed,” Chief Robert White said after Friday’s meeting.

So, the work wasn’t clear, and he expresses a desire to “kind of correct” cops killing black people. I think that alone expresses very clearly the need for this type of artwork, whether the police like it or not. If they don’t wish to be portrayed as bigoted killers, perhaps they should stop being bigoted killers. (Yes, fine, qualifier: not all cops, just way too fucking many.)

Beautiful Science

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council photo competition allows researchers and doctoral students to share their work in pictures, with winners from categories ranging from eureka to weird and wonderful. Award winning images of science in action. Thanks to Opus for the heads up.

A rotating jet of a viscoelastic liquid, which won first place in the weird and wonderful category Photograph: Professor Omar Matar/EPSRC/PA

A rotating jet of a viscoelastic liquid, which won first place in the weird and wonderful category
Photograph: Professor Omar Matar/EPSRC/PA