University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


This study is an application of cultural economic value theory within the context of visual art. Current literature supports an incompatibility between objective, empirical economic research and the subjectivity of artistic expression. While variables affecting the intrinsic value of art are difficult to identify and measure, this study quantified the effect of context information on university students’ perceptions of visual art. For this study, 118 randomly assigned University of Arkansas students viewed four identical works of art and answered identical questions designed to measure perceptions of intrinsic value. Despite a hypothesis that context would positively affect participants’ reports, when significant this variable actually lowered participants’ reported values for every question. Results of this study open the door to further research in cultural economics, integrating empirical methodology into arts programmers’ strategies to reach their millennial audiences.