Van Gogh, Lady Gaga and the implications of eccentricity (study)

Gaga_FingerAttn. artists! Can you get a higher appraisal for yourself and your art by behaving more eccentrically? Say, by hacking off your own earlobe or “cavorting around in little more than a thong”? Such questions have been examined in a new study from Dr. Eric R. Igou (University of Limerick, Ireland) and Dr. Wijnand A P van Tilburg (University of Southampton, England) which tested, for the first time, the hypothesis that eccentricity increases perceptions of artistic capacity and quality of art. A series of experiments investigated various scenarios.

● Whether, for example, experimental participants would rate Van Gogh’s work higher if they were first informed of the famous ear-hacking incident.

● Or if Lady Gaga is or isn’t perceived as a highly skilled artist, depending on participants viewing photos of her behaving eccentrically or (relatively) normally.

● Or whether ratings of Joseph Beuys’s artworks would vary if viewers were informed that he had “carried roadside stones on his head to the construction site of his cottage, and that he continued doing this for the rest of his life.”

The conclusion :

“In everyday life, people are often confronted with judgments about art. We found that these judgments depend on the displayed eccentricity of the artist as long as the art is unconventional and the displayed eccentricity seems authentic. This research thus shows that the results of creative endeavors are clearly not solely determined by the quality of the creative outcomes but also depend crucially on the perceived degree of eccentricity of the artist – a characteristic that is peripheral to the artwork but nonetheless impactful for its evaluation.”

‘From Van Gogh to Lady Gaga: Artist eccentricity increases perceived artistic skill and art appreciation.’ is scheduled for publication in the European Journal of Social Psychology.

Note: The official ‘Lady Gaga Finger Poster‘ is available from her website for around $10.