Is appreciation for art and its architectural component learned, inherited or a little of both? Why do some people love specific forms of art while others don’t get it? I have always believed appreciation of beauty was, at least partially, innate. As an architect, working with hundreds of clients through the years, something about the look of a home and its setting on a site just feels “right”. Was this because of the client’s highly evolved taste or something much more basic?
Denis Dutton, in his fascinating book, The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure and Human Evolution argues that aesthetic taste, is an evolutionary trait, shaped by natural selection. In many circles this seemingly logical conclusion was rather radical. In the introduction to the book Dutton states “Charles Darwin laid the foundation for the proper study of art as not only a cultural phenomenon, but a natural one as well.” The book provides fascinating arguments to prove the point. It’s well worth reading.
Mr. Dutton grew up in Los Angeles, received a PhD from the University of California and spent his academic career as an art philosopher in the U. S. and New Zealand. He gave a terrific Ted Talk on the Darwinian theory of beauty a few years ago.