Title: Not just beautiful objects: Exploring the role of perceived intentions in the appreciation of works of art
Date: 24 October 2013
Time: 12 noon
Venue: Hatchcroft HG09
Psychologists and neurologists have often approached works of art as 'stimuli' that are more or less pleasing to the brain, as if some universal and ahistorical rules were governing art appreciation. This misses the point, stressed in the humanities and social sciences, that works of art are products of human intentionality and agency with a unique history. A series of experiments explored the role of contextual and historical knowledge in art appreciation. In one study, participants used the artists' intentions to decide whether certain artefacts were instances of "art." In another study, titles and other historical information were found to increase participants' understanding and liking of a series of works of art. Overall, the results suggest that perceived artists' intentions and messages affect what people consider to be art and good art. The art experience is not only about beauty or hedonistic pleasure, but involves assessment of the artist's intention and of the history behind the work of art.
University of Oxford