The Easel

Warm, lively, rough? Assessing agreement on aesthetic effects of artworks

Do we respond to artworks in similar ways? Art history says ‘yes’ – for example, blue colours are usually described as “cool” while yellows and reds are “warm” and “lively”. Scientists tested this idea using actual abstract paintings and found … no evidence of universal reaction patterns. In other words, we all read paintings differently. Having a training in art did not change this result. Hardly the last word on the matter, but interesting.