9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN02 Sociology of the Arts

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 Artistic Appreciation Building II, C6.08

Self-illusion of the unforgettable aesthetic experience in art museums

Visiting an art museum represents an activity of cultural consumption where the viewer has the possibility to enjoy an aesthetic experience that, in some cases, we will define as unforgettable because of the intensity of the emotions caused and its persistence to live on time. In this piece of research we have studied the way in which consumer´s aesthetic experience interacts with the authenticity of works of art to produce an unforgettable aesthetic experience. Starting from the modern hedonism to understand that consumer´s self-illusory behavior will influence the quality of the aesthetic experience rather than the quality of the experience itself. Our research design tries to analyze whether authentic works interact with the aesthetic experience and how it interacts. We have conducted 21 interviews with regular visitors of art museums, which are digitally recorded and, later, transcribed ad verbatim. Transcripts and no textual comments recorded during the field work have shaped the data sources for our project, analyzed with a phenomenological approach and with the help of computer assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS). We found that original works share with copies their ability to identify the viewer with the cultural principles expressed by the author but differ in their ability to link the viewer with the artist and the context surrounding the production of the work. Thus, the consciousness of seeing an authentic work against a copy affects the illusion of the aesthetic experience, and it does not depend on the individual´s level of appropriate cultural capital but on consumer´s knowledge about the original piece of art and its author.