COMPARING WORKS BY ARTISTS AND BY CHIMPANZEES. This article in Psychology Today describes an experiment by Angelina Hawley-Dolan and Ellen Winner of Boston College which tested whether students would prefer paintings by well-known abstract painters to paintings by monkeys, children and others. There were 72 students in the experiment, 30 of whom were studio art majors. Each painting by an abstract expressionist was paired with a painting by “a child, a monkey, a chimpanzee, a gorilla, or an elephant.” Subjects were asked “which piece they personally liked more, and which they thought was a better work of art.” The reporting of the results focused on whether the opinions of the test subjects were influenced by the label given to the painter of the work (for example, the name of the artist). But the article points out that there was another interesting result: “Even the art students preferred the child’s or animal’s painting over the professional’s-and judged it to be objectively better-30 to 40 percent of the time.” This is another of the articles about the experiment which drew attention to the same point. It gleefully observes that: “…nobody ever had to do an experiment to find out whether people can tell the difference between a painting by a monkey and a painting by Monet.”

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