Bubic and colleagues found that knowing the name of a painting influences responses to it. Details on their project: “The present study . . . explore[d] the perception of 12 selected abstract and figural Wassily Kandinsky paintings among two groups of participants, one familiarized with the titles prior to viewing the artworks and another unfamiliar with the paintings’ titles. . . . participants who knew the titles prior to viewing the artworks liked both figural and abstract paintings more compared with those unfamiliar with the title. This finding is in accordance with previous studies indicating that providing contextual information may influence viewers’ liking of presented artworks.” The researchers also report that participants in their study generally preferred “figural over abstract paintings. . . . they reported liking and understanding these paintings better as well as being more emotionally moved by them.”
Andreja Bubic, Ana Susac, and Marijan Palmovic. “Observing Individuals Viewing Art: The Effects of Titles on Viewers’ Eye-Movement Profiles.” Empirical Studies of the Arts, in press.