September 2017
Volume 17, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2017
Kandinsky or me? How free is the eye of the beholder in abstract art?
Author Affiliations
  • Doris Braun
    Justus-Liebig University, Dept. of Psychology, Giessen
  • Katja Dörschner
    Justus-Liebig University, Dept. of Psychology, Giessen
Journal of Vision August 2017, Vol.17, 1178. doi:
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      Doris Braun, Katja Dörschner; Kandinsky or me? How free is the eye of the beholder in abstract art?. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):1178.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

  • Supplements

Abstract artworks represent a complex composition of shapes, colors and graphic elements. Research of art perception has focused often on aesthetic ratings. Here we take a different approach and investigate abstract art perception by assessing (i) how the artist's color palette of a painting influences observers' choice of color for one element in the same painting (ii) if observers prefer their color choices over the original and (iii) how the composition of the painting affects its perceived balance. Participants (i) adjusted, starting with a neutral gray, the color of a single shape selected in 24 abstract paintings of Baumeister, Hoffmann, Delauney, Kandinsky and Klee, and indicated (ii) their preference between the original painting or with the adjusted color. To measure the perceived balance (iii) in a painting we asked participants to indicate the center of gravity for each artwork by adjusting the location and size of a black circle on a corresponding adjacent white rectangle. Our results show that, color settings are frequently not in agreement with the artist's choice but differ significantly from the distribution of randomly picked CIE-LAB samples. Notably, the color palette of a painting influences color choices in two ways: it either elicits harmonious or contrasting settings. Unlike for color settings observers' exhibited a remarkable consistency in their perceived center of gravity. Having seen a painting once influences quite effectively whether the original or its mirror image is preferred.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017


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