Classifying artists and their work as distinct art styles has been an important task of scholars in the field of art history. Due to its subjectivity, scholars often contradict one another. Our project investigated differences in aesthetic qualities of seven art styles through quantitative means. This was achieved with state-of-the-art deep-learning paradigms to generate new images resembling the style of an artist or entire era. We conducted psychological experiments to measure the behavior of subjects when viewing these new art images. Two different experiments were used: In an eye-tracking study, subjects viewed art-stylespecific generated images. Eye movements were recorded and then compared between art styles. In a visual singleton search study, subjects had to locate a style-outlier image among three images of an alternative style. Reaction time and accuracy were measured and analyzed. These experiments show that there are measurable differences in behavior when viewing images of varying art styles. From these differences, we constructed hierarchical clusterings relating art styles based on the different behaviors of subjects viewing the samples. Our study reveals a novel perspective on the classification of artworks into stylistic eras and motivates future research in the domain of empirical aesthetics through quantitative means.


  • The philosophy of aesthetics is concerned with the creation, perception, and nature of beauty

  • Choosing Impressionism and Expressionism as the main eras for the present study proved to be of advantage, as both eras are regarded as popular due to their anecdotal striking individual stylistics, making both recognizable on their own

  • We turn towards integrating the results into the context of empirical aesthetics and art history

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The philosophy of aesthetics is concerned with the creation, perception, and nature of beauty. Received December 13, 2019; Published June 9, 2020. A quantitative approach to the taxonomy of artistic styles.


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