Let the class-based anxieties begin! The New York Times has published a useful tool to figure out where you fit into the great pyramid of wealth in this country. And just in case the people on the coasts of the US are going to pull out the, “well, it’s more expensive to live in New York than Montana” line, the newspaper of record has published another geography-based tool that does the contextual analysis for you.

Some interesting data points from these categories that don’t really lend themselves to effectively categorize the art community. Here are the 1% in the art world and remember this means that an artist is part of a household that has an income in that category. This does not indicate their personal category:

  • Artists
    • 11,616 or 1.2% of the 1,000,000 in the “Other Industries” category
    • 9,802 or 3.5% of the 285,110 in the “Business Services” category
    • 5,765 or 2% of the 276,468 in the “Misc. Professional and Related Services” category
  • Writers
    • 10,134 or 2.2% of the 465,545 in the “Other Industries” category
    • 4,575 or 4.9% of the 92,861 in the “Misc. Professional and Related Services” category
    • 2,809 or 3.5% of the 79,951 in the “Printing, Publishing & Allied Industries (except newspapers)” category
  • Librarians/Curators
    • 3,011 or 1.2% of 260,530 in this category
  • Architects
    • 3,525 or 2.2% of 165,545 in this category
  • Actors, Directors & Producers
    • 6,751 or 3.1% of the 215,518 in this category

The total is 57,988 or 2% of the 2,841,528 in all the categories I’ve listed above. Which is slightly more than the 2.1 million that was touted in the NEA study last year (granted the NEA didn’t include curators or librarians from what I can tell) but this data does substantiate the claim that artists tend to be slightly wealthier than the general population.

And these categories don’t even account for the whole art world. I’m not sure where gallerists, auction house employees, studio assistants, gallery workers and others would fall in this categorization. Of course, just because someone is in the 1% doesn’t mean they don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes or government programs.

Regardless of the meaning of this data, in the wise words of Aunt Mame (as played by Rosalind Russell in the 1958 movie version), “Knowledge is power!

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Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

One reply on “Artists In the 1%”

  1. as with the nea study i don’t see how this information is useful as it pertains to artists. in the large number of cases, bankers or industrial welders go to work, and as a result of their labor they receive their income, a paycheck on friday or some agreed upon fee from a client. for these professions, labor = livelihood. this is far more complicated when it comes to people who self identify as ‘artists.’ do you sculpt but make all your income teaching? are you a video artist who has 5 other jobs to support the habit, some jobs closer to being ‘artistic’ than others? are you among those few who sell well enough at galleries to live off that income? are you a social worker writing a novel on the weekend? what is the difference between the painter spending each day in her post-industrial detroit loft fashioning her dark abstractions and the production guy at a slick nyc design firm? far greater in a whole host of ways than I’d say than the difference between what it means to be a banker in minnesotta or san francisco.

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