The researchers discreetly placed a “©MoMA” watermark at the bottom of some of the photographs and asked the volunteers to rate the quality of the various pieces of art. While the laypeople weren’t swayed by the watermark, the art experts were, preferring the fakes if they had the prestigious stamp. The finding suggests that art experts are particularly inclined to agree with what has previously been deemed prestigious, rather than evaluating work solely on its own merits.
The fake portraits were taken from an earlier study of facial attractiveness; this enabled the researchers to investigate what the art experts found attractive in the various different portraits. While the laypeople preferred the artworks involving more attractive faces, the art experts’ preferences were in the opposite direction — favoring the less attractive faces. According to the study’s lead author, Jan Verpooten, this may be because of a trend in the art world to actively deviate from our innate aesthetic preferences.
„It Is Pretty Easy to Get Art Experts to Fall for Fakes”