1 in 3 Art Students Can't Tell Famous Paintings from Paintings by Monkeys

Psychologists at Boston University paired paintings by famous abstract expressionists with paintings by a child, monkey, chimpanzee, gorilla, and elephant. They presented the images side by side and asked students to judge which painting was of higher quality. One-third of the time, the art students chose the work of children and animals. At least they did better than a coin toss would!

To the students' credit, the work of four-year-old Jack Pezanosky (at left) is pretty inspired. His painting was paired with Hans Hoffman's Laburnum (at right, with its signature removed to prevent cheating).

The researchers also studied whether correct or incorrect labeling affected the students' judgments. (For instance, labeling Jack's painting as Hoffman's.) It didn't affect the art students, but did affect other students, who were more likely to say whichever painting was supposed to be good, was good. Once again, art students exceed my very low expectations for them. [Psychology Today]