Art in the eye of the beholder: The perception of art during monocular viewing

Academic Article


  • OBJECTIVE: To explore whether monocular viewing affects judgment of art. BACKGROUND: Each superior colliculus receives optic nerve fibers primarily from the contralateral eye, and visual input to each colliculus activates the ipsilateral hemisphere. In previous studies, monocular viewing influenced performance on visual-spatial and verbal memory tasks. METHOD: Eight college-educated subjects, 6 men and 2 women, monocularly viewed 10 paintings with the right eye and another 10 with the left. Subjects had not previously seen the paintings. Each time, 5 paintings were abstract expressionist and 5 were impressionist. The orders of eye viewing and painting viewed were pseudorandomized and counterbalanced. Subjects rated on a 1 to 10 scale 4 qualities of the paintings: representation, aesthetics (beauty), novelty, and closure (completeness). RESULTS: Paintings in the abstract expressionist style had a significant difference in the rating of novelty; the paintings were rated more novel when viewed with the left eye than with the right eye. There was a trend for rating paintings as having more closure when viewing with the right eye than with the left. Impressionist paintings show no differences. CONCLUSIONS: Monocular viewing influences artistic judgments; novelty being rated higher when viewed with the left eye. Asymmetric projections from each eye and hemispheric specialization are posited to explain these differences. © 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Finney GR; Heilman KM
  • Start Page

  • 5
  • End Page

  • 7
  • Volume

  • 21
  • Issue

  • 1