It was today in 2001 that a scientific journal published a study with an interesting name.
In part it read: “Van Gogh, Chagall and pigeons”?!?
Yes, pigeons. There’s been a lot of research on how pigeons can tell the difference between some of the great paintings of the world.
The 2001 paper comes from Shigeru Watanabe, who showed paintings by Vincent Van Gogh and Marc Chagall to pigeons.
Over time, they could tell a Van Gogh apart from a Chagall, even ones they hadn’t seen before.
Previous experiments had shown that pigeons could also generalize between different types of art.
For example, a bird who had seen Monet paintings and distinguished those from Picasso’s works could see a work by another Impressionist and associate that with the Monets rather than a Cubist work.
The goal was to learn how the birds take in and process new visual information, and clearly it’s pretty complex.
But it’s also good to know that pigeons have thoughts about paintings.
Until I saw this study, I thought they were only interested in outdoor statues.
Here’s an amazing local news story out of Detroit.
It’s a human interest piece about a skateboard teacher known as Mr. Premium, who gives helmets and boards and skateboard lessons to neighborhood kids at a new skate park.
As if all that wasn’t enough, the reporter, Victor Williams, does the live part of his news report while riding a skateboard.
And he absolutely nails both the ride and the reporting.
The Pigeon as Art Critic (Scientific American)
Pigeons’ Discrimination of Paintings By Monet and Picasso (Researchgate)