Abstract: Research seeking a scientific foundation for the theory of art appreciation has raised controversies at the intersection of the social and cognitive sciences. Though equally relevant to a scientific inquiry into art appreciation, psychological and historical approaches to art developed independently and lack a common core of theoretical principles. Historicists argue that psychological and brain sciences ignore the fact that artworks are artifacts produced and appreciated in the context of unique historical situations and artistic intentions. After revealing flaws in the psychological approach, we introduce a psycho-historical framework for the science of art appreciation. This framework demonstrates that a science of art appreciation must investigate how appreciators process causal and historical information to classify and explain their psychological responses to art. Expanding on research about the cognition of artifacts, we identify three modes of appreciation: basic exposure to an artwork, the artistic design stance, and artistic understanding... We conclude that scientists can tackle fundamental questions about the nature and appreciation of art within the psycho-historical framework.
Bullot, N.J., & Reber, R. (2013). The artful mind meets art history: Toward a psycho-historical framework for science of art appreciation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36(2), 123-180. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X12000489
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