5 fascinating ways your taste in art reflects your character

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The kind of art you like says a lot about your personality. 

Taking a deeper look, your taste in art is actually extremely important.

Here’s why.

1) Where are you in the OCEAN?

The most reputed method of measuring personality is still often considered the Big Five. 

This measures your openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism, or OCEAN. 

Big Five testing has been around for more than a century, and assesses personality along a sliding spectrum rather than just simple or binary labels like “outgoing” or “introverted.” 

The most fascinating ways your taste in art reflects your character is analyzing how your response to art situates you in the OCEAN. 

The very fact of liking art and wanting to think about it and look at it means you likely have a decent degree of openness, but this also depends on what type of art. 

Then in terms of the ethics of the art and what it portrays we can get into conscientiousness.

The loud colors or muted pastels can tell us a lot about extroversion, while your strong emotional like or dislike can say a lot about your agreeableness and your paranoia or confusion about art can sometimes speak to underlying neuroticism. 

2) Are you more traditional or avant-garde? 

Secondly, in terms of the fascinating ways your taste in art reflects your character is that we can get a snapshot of whether you’re generally more traditional or avant-garde. 

Of course there are people who are both!

But the point is that if you had to choose ten paintings for your new home would they verge on the more experimental and modern or the more classic, realistic and Renaissance? 

In general, a more open-minded and liberal person enjoys complex and potentially confusing or unclear paintings, while a more conservative-minded and traditional person likes artwork that “makes sense” to their more rational, analytic brain.

As Brianna Randall puts it

“Open personalities are partial to more complex paintings while conservative personalities like more straightforward, traditional pieces.”

3) How agreeable are you? 

The next of the fascinating ways your taste in art reflects your character is that it can say a lot about how agreeable you are. 

In other words, using the OCEAN model, do you tend to like paintings that present a quite agreeable and cohesive whole or are you more prone to jarring, unusual pieces that tend to be more provocative or even bizarre?

An influential 2005 British research study done on 90,000 people found that people who were less agreeable and more neurotic tended to like abstract, jarring and unusual artwork in the abstract and pop art categories, for example. 

More agreeable individuals tended to like styles like impressionism and Renaissance art. 

4) How do you look at things? 

In addition, another of the fascinating ways your taste in art reflects your character is that it can tell you about the actual mechanics of how you view art. 

This, in turn, can say a lot about your personality and underlying traits. 

A 2018 research study published in the Journal of Eye Movement Research found that most people start looking at a piece of art in the top right and then move across the painting. 

The right of our brain is very engaged in understanding and judging visual and spatial dynamics, so this make sense. 

However, those people in the study who started by often looking at the left of the painting or artwork tended to be more neurotic and anxious. 

It’s not only your taste in art that has a lot to do with your personality, in other words, it’s also the actual way you gaze at art that says a lot.

5) What does a painting mean to you?

The next of the fascinating ways your taste in art reflects your character is in terms of what it means to you. 

I remember seeing Renoir’s 1881 painting Luncheon of the Boating Party printed on the label of a French wine I was drinking while visiting Avignon. 

I sat transfixed, not on account of the wine, but on account of the meaning in the painting. 

Everybody was trying to get someone’s attention who wanted somebody else’s attention. Boy, could I relate to that!

A scene full of unrequited love. 

Except for one exception, a woman making a real emotional connection with a dog who she was looking at lovingly. 

That was what the painting meant to me. It means other things to other folks.

But what a painting means to you also says a lot about you. 

There isn’t really a “wrong” interpretation. You may notice Luncheon of the Boating Party as mainly being about spoiled people who are stupid, or representing the vacuousness of the upper class, or representing the need to relax sometimes. 

It’s not wrong, it’s your interpretation! 

As Ilona Polinovsky notes

“When we see a piece of art that catches our attention on a street, in a store, or at the doctor’s office, we try to understand it by analyzing details and try to grasp the idea behind the painting. 

“Everyone has their unique interpretation and very often this interpretation is based on our personality and emotional intelligence.”

Breaking it down

Let’s take a look at some wide categories of art and what it means about your character if you love them. 

Abstract art

Some people laugh at abstract art or find it ridiculous and gauche. 

Others love it and find it rebellious, challenging and innovative. 

If you’re a big abstract art fan, you likely have a strong independent nature and like challenging convention. 

“Like abstract art? 

Well chances are, you are the live-wire, disagreeable type, who thirsts for something, how do I say, different, nay… extraordinaire!” writes Maria Elena Murguia.


Next up we come to cubism, a form of abstract art made very popular by the late great Pablo Picasso. 

Cubism fans are usually open-minded and like to see things from new perspectives, but they also have a streak of contrarianism. 

If you’re a big cubism fan there’s a chance you like to challenge old ways of thinking and living and have the kind of character that finds some tradition and old eras outmoded and ignorant. 


Line drawings and geometric patterns are often used in forms of minimalist art. 

If you love minimalism you’re likely to be a very organized person who likes to schedule and know everything in advance. 

You also sometimes get anxiety about things out of your control and overwhelmed by too much social interaction or intensity. 


Next up comes impressionism, a dreamy and relaxed form of expression.

Impressionism lovers tend to be very peace-loving and relaxed. 

You prefer to live and let live and avoid conflict or strong positions that could lead to strife. You like to go with the flow and let the good times roll, but you also are highly sensitive and feel deeply. 


Renaissance art is all about beauty and showing the vivacity of life, love and the human experience. 

If you love Renaissance art you tend to be more traditional, but still have a romantic streak of loving beauty and passion. 

Classic and ancient art

Classic and ancient art is very dedicated to playing by the rules and depicting beauty and history in an agreed upon form. 

Big fans of this tend to be much more conservative and have nostalgia for the order and archetypes of the past. 

Want to know more? Take this free test from the BBC on how your art taste reflects your personality!

My result? 

The classicist

“Tradition, understatement and heritage are your personal mantras. Whether vintage cars or rare watches, you are drawn towards things which have proven the test of time, and so it is with art. Your art soulmate is Classical, Old Masters and Ancient Art.”

I have to admit, it’s true!

What do you see?

Even beyond the level of the kind of art you resonate with, is the experience and what you see when you view a piece of art including a statue or a carving. 

What do you see? What do you feel? What do you think? 

In the 1920s, Swiss psychoanalyst Hermann Rorschach came up with a way of blotting ink on paper and analyzing people’s psychological and emotional state by asking what they perceived. 

Rorschach tests are still used today: images and art are presented to an individual who may interpret them in many different ways. 

In this sense, your taste in art goes beyond the fact of what art you connect with to the deepest level of all in what you are reading into the artwork in addition to what’s widely agreed to be there. 

It’s not only about what art appeals to you and speaks to you, but about your own unique relation and experience to art that may differ from anyone else’s. 

It’s not just about what you like or dislike, it’s about the fusion of your perception with the objective art in front of you: a magical and meaningful event. 

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