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Does Creativity Have An Expiration Date?

The late Jane Russell famously starred in “The Outlaw” in 1943. In 2006, at 84, she was singing Cole Porter songs in a review she helped create called “The Swinging Forties.”

Other examples of mature creators include these:

At 96 Martha Graham premiered her choreographed work The Maple Leaf Rag.

Sidney Sheldon wrote his last novel at about age 87.

Edward Albee won a Tony award for a new play in 2002, at age 75.

At 97, architect Oscar Niemeyer was developing one of his most ambitious projects.

On the other end of the age range, the photo shows Zoe Yin (left) and Victoria Yin, age 11 and 14, who have shown their work at expos, galleries, and art shows internationally, and “selling paintings for tens of thousands of dollars,” according to a new Creativity Post article: At What Age Will Your Creativity Peak?

The article mentions that psychologist Dean Keith Simonton “proposes in his book Origins of Genius: Darwinian Perspectives on Creativity that the age of the creative peak is determined by the discipline in which the artist is engaged. Poets peak much earlier than novelists, whose craft matures over time.”

The article notes that David Galenson “studied the careers of forty-seven of painters, writers, directors, and sculptors and published his findings in his book Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity.

Galenson concluded: “There have been two very different types of artist in the modern era. These two types are distinguished not by their importance [but] by the methods by which they arrive at their major contri­butions… I call one of these methods aesthetically motivated experi­mentation, and the other conceptual execution.”

The article explains, “Artists motivated by experimentation have imprecise goals and are driven by visual perceptions. These experimental artists tend to paint the same thing many times, rarely make preparatory sketches, and ‘aim to discover the image in the course of making it.’ Their work is gradual and they learn as they paint, improving over time as an artist. The experimental artist is often at their creative peak much older. Cézanne did not paint what is considered one of his most important works, Les Grandes Baigneuses until he was well into his sixties and at the end of his days.”

“The peak for conceptual artists is much younger. Picasso painted Les Demoiselles d’Avignon after dozens of preparatory sketches, finally starting to paint when he was merely twenty-five. For the Yin sisters, it may be too early to tell whether they are experimental, conceptual, or neither.”

But we don’t have to be creative prodigies or renowned artists in order to continue achieving creatively throughout life.

Top photo of Zoe and Victoria Yin, from the Chinese (English language) news story: Prodigy siblings hold exhibition in Beijing – which shows more of their work.

Read more examples of creators in my articles Maturity and Creativity, and Creativity and maturity, and a number of quotes on my site page Maturity.


Does Creativity Have An Expiration Date?

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2012). Does Creativity Have An Expiration Date?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Oct 2012
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