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Weirder artists make ‘better’ art, study shows


The study, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, sought to unpack the relationship between art valuation and the perceived eccentricity of artists — something the authors call the eccentricity effect. To do this, they ran a series of experiments involving works from both well-known and fictitious artists. In one experiment, they gauged viewers reactions to Vincent Van Goghs famous Sunflowers painting; As predicted, the art was evaluated more positively when Van Goghs eccentric behavior was mentioned, they write. Viewers who were told of the artists eccentric behavior held his work in higher esteem, as did those who were shown an image of the artist in a disheveled state — wearing a thick stubble and with half-long hair combed over one side of his head. The final experiment involved Lady Gaga: viewers were shown either a photograph of the musician in a standard black dress, or one of her in a crouched position, wearing a tight black suit, black boots, black gloves, and a large, shiny mask. Those who saw the latter image held a higher opinion of her music, except for those who were told that some critics see Gagas weird persona as a marketing ploy, suggesting that the effect only takes hold when the eccentricity is perceived to be authentic.

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