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Toward a Phenomenological Psychology of Art Appreciation

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Experiences with art have been of longstanding concern for phenomenologists, yet the psychological question of the appearing of art appreciation has not been addressed. This article attends to this lack, exemplifying the merits of a phenomenological psychological investigation based on three semi-structured interviews conducted with museum visitors. The interviews were subjected to meaning condensation as well as to descriptions of the first aesthetic reception, the retrospective interpretation, and the “horizons of expectations” included in the meeting with art. The findings show that art appreciation appears as variations in experiential forms comprised of gratifying experiences of beauty, challenges to the understanding, and bodily-informed alterations of the emotions. The phenomenological psychology of actual, lived experience can embrace the phenomenological theories of art appreciation by Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, yet highlight the psychological importance of experiences with art.

Affiliations: 1: Copenhagen University


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