Everyday life vs art: effects of framing on the mode of object interpretation

Marina Iosifian*, Judith Wolfe

*Corresponding author for this work

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Everyday objects have often been used in contemporary art since Marcel Duchamp introduced the concept of the ready-made. However, it is not clear how everyday objects are perceived in art contexts in comparison to everyday contexts. We investigated how individuals interpret pairings of images of everyday objects as artworks and as objects in everyday life. In Study 1, we found that participants evaluated pairings of unrelated images of objects as fitting together more under the art condition compared to the everyday condition. In Study 2, using the thought-listing technique, we found that participants ascribed symbolic meanings to everyday objects more often under the art condition. In Study 3, we found that associating unrelated images of objects under the art condition primes cognitive access to symbolic meanings of visual scenes. Overall, the studies show that everyday objects are interpreted differently in an art context as compared to an everyday context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-191
Number of pages26
JournalEmpirical Studies of the Arts
Issue number1
Early online date20 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • Art
  • Associations
  • Symbolic
  • Interpretation
  • Ready-made

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