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Context matters: investigating the impact of contextual information on aesthetic appreciation of paintings by Max Ernst and Pablo Picasso

Swami, Viren (2013) Context matters: investigating the impact of contextual information on aesthetic appreciation of paintings by Max Ernst and Pablo Picasso. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 7 (3). pp. 285-295. ISSN 1931-3896

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0030965

Abstract

A small body of work has suggested that understanding and appreciation of artworks are affected by the presentation of concurrent contextualizing information, such as titular and descriptive information. The present studies examined the effects of different types of information and different art styles on understanding and aesthetic appreciation. Study 1 showed that elaborate, content-specific information had the greatest impact on both understanding and aesthetic appreciation of abstract paintings by Max Ernst, relative to broad genre information, titular information, or no contextualizing information. Study 2 showed that the provision of content-specific information resulted in greater understanding and appreciation of abstract artworks by Pablo Picasso, but not representational paintings by the same artist. Study 3 showed that, compared with relevant information, the presentation of nonrelevant, content-related information about artworks did not result in improved understanding and appreciation. In each of the three studies, appraised ability to understand artworks fully mediated the relationship between information presentation and aesthetic appreciation. These results are consistent with a psycho-historical framework, which proposes that studies of aesthetic appreciation must take into account the impact of the art–historical context.

Item Type:Article
Research Community:University of Westminster > Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages, School of
ID Code:11403
Deposited On:30 Oct 2012 13:33
Last Modified:28 Jan 2014 15:30

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