Experimental versus Conceptual Entrepreneurs?
| Peter Klein |
The latest paper in David Galenson’s artist series deals with architects, distinguishing between “experimental” and “conceptual” designers. The distinction calls to mind the different emphases of Knight’s and Kirzner’s concepts of the entrepreneur, the former centered on action and market feedback, the latter on the cognitive act of discovery. What do you think?
David W. Galenson
NBER Working Paper No. 15661
Issued in January 2010
Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Frank Gehry were experimental architects: all worked visually, and arrived at their designs by discovering forms as they sketched. Their styles evolved gradually over long periods, and all three produced the buildings that are generally considered their greatest masterpieces after the age of 60. In contrast, Maya Lin is a conceptual architect: her designs originate in ideas, and they arrive fully formed. The work that dominates her career, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, was designed as an assignment for a course she took during her senior year of college. The dominance of a single early work makes Lin’s career comparable to those of a number of precocious conceptual innovators in other arts, including the painter Paul Sérusier, the sculptor Meret Oppenheim, the novelist J.D. Salinger, and the poet Allen Ginsberg.