Important Study Finds That Artists Get Laid More

11/22/2011 3:27 PM |

Sordid art world scene, circa 1903-04. (Courtesy The Arthayer R. Sanborn Hopper Collection Trust)

  • Sordid art world scene, circa 1903-04. (Courtesy The Arthayer R. Sanborn Hopper Collection Trust)

Conventional wisdom suggests that artists have a lot more sex than the rest of us. But do they really? A trio of British academics set out to determine whether this is an urban myth or open art world secret in their couldn’t-have-titled-it-better-myself study “Status and mating success amongst visual artists.” Before going on to poke (ha!) fun at this penetrating (haha!) research, I should mention that the report cites an actually interesting precedent, University of New Mexico psychology professor Geoffrey Miller‘s claim that “producing artwork functions as a mating display.” (Hm…) Now for the sexy numbers.

The three Brits conducting this landmark study—University of Northampton senior lecturer in psychology Helen Clegg, behavioral science professor at Newcastle University Daniel Nettle and head of the College of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Edinburgh Dorothy Miell—solicited mating statistics from 236 visual artists for their sample. The reported figures varied immensely, between zero and 250 [obligatory Tracey Emin joke goes here], but the median for the 236 artists was “10.67 lovers,” which seems… normal, right? Or not?

The Guardian goes into statistical detail about what the median is and how such wildly varied results are plotted using logarithms, but that’s obviously not what’s important here. The three academics’ hilarious point system for computing one-night stands, short-term relationships and long-term relationships, though, could certainly be handy in other studies (or, like, life).

But, so, ok, enough foreplay. Do artists actually get laid more often than non-artists, and does their success in the art world have any impact on their success in bed? Yes, apparently, but only for male artists:

After tiptoeing through all their data and computations, the artists-and-sex researchers decided that “more successful male artists had more sexual partners than less successful artists, but this did not hold for female artists”.

And there you have it, statistical confirmation from a whole team of British academics that the art world is still a man’s world.

(And, because you’re wondering, no, the study doesn’t name any of the artists who divulged their sexual records.)