Why not?  John Derbyshire reviews The Art Instinct by Denis Dutton, founder of the artsandlettersdaily website (for which we owe him a debt of gratitude).  The gist?  That we have biological, evolutionary sources for our tastes, that perhaps what we like held, at least once upon a time, adaptive advantage.  Derbyshire asks, why not?  Let a thousand conferences bloom!

Speaking of bloom, I first heard about this in a talk (notice) by Yale psychologist Paul Bloom:  the world’s “most desirable painting.”  Mentioned also in Dutton, an experiment in the nineties by Komar and Melamid conducted surveys to determine tastes in painting. Here is the most desirable painting for Americans:


The funny thing is, in almost all the world, everyone prefers paintings that contain a lot of blue, water, trees, animals, people, and historic figures.  Here, for instance, is the favorite from Kenya:


You can check out the rest of the (remarkably similar) most desired–and the least desired–paintings for different nationalities here.  Just one thing:  Can sombody please explain to me the Dutch (whom I love and yet cannot fathom)!

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