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Would You Rather Look at a Van Gogh or a Simple Nature Photograph?

Research shows patients prefer viewing simple nature scenes even over the abstract art of masters like Van Gogh or Chagall. Growing evidence indicates that art really does impact healing.  A recent study determined what kind of art patients prefer.  Researchers conducted their study at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Texas. The facility has one of the country’s oldest Art-Cart Programs.  The Art-Cart Program allows patients to select artwork from a rotating collection to hang in their own room.  Dozens of patients at the hospital were asked to rate art based on how the art made them feel and whether the patient would like it hung in their hospital room.
“A quantitative analysis of the survey results yielded statistically significant results for the popularity of nature images over best-selling abstract/unique images.  The study also showed a preference for landscapes over figurative art or art containing animals.  Images of animals or human figures that were within a nature setting and realistic were preferred to the work of masters like Van Gogh and Chagall.”  

The most popular image rated by the study participants was Bill Robertson’s photo “Rock Quarry Fall,” which shows a gentle waterfall with a backdrop of trees transitioning from
summer to autumn.  The study says the image was received so well because patients could imagine themselves in the scene, offering them an escape from the hospital setting and ultimately a chance to heal.  

This study was conducted by American Art Resources in conjunction with St.Lukes Episcopal Hospital.