Previous research has found that adults with no expertise in visual arts prefer paintings made by abstract expressionist masters over paintings by children or nonhumans, and judge them as “better” works of art. Do children also recognize and prefer artwork made by professional abstract artists? If children are told that an artist made the image, does that affect their preferences?
In this study, children are presented with pairs of paintings on a computer screen: one made by a professional artist and the other by a child, monkey, or elephant. We ask children, “Which image do you like more? Why?” and “Which image is the better work of art? Why?” The first pairs of images appear with no labels, but later pairs are shown with labels stating which painting was made by an artist, and which was made by a non-artist. Sometimes we label the pictures correctly, and sometimes we label them incorrectly. We want to know how the labels might affect children’s responses to the images.
We predict that older children, ages 8-14 years, will be influenced by the labels because they may be aware of the status that the labels suggest. In contrast, we predict that younger children, ages 4-5 years, may be less influenced by the labels.
This study may help us better understand how children analyze abstract artwork, what kind of abstract art they prefer, and what mediates their judgment making.
Learn about other research related to Conceptualizing Music and Art.
This research is conducted by the Art & Mind Laboratory at Boston College