An image from Meural’s report on Americans and art (via Meural)

Meural, a new online art buying platform that believes in “democratizing” art, commissioned a study from the internet-based market research firm YouGov PLC on Americans and art. The survey was conducted last November, and the sample size was 1,105 American adults.

Some not so surprising things (with my commentary):

  • 82% of people could not identify the artist of the “Girl with a Pearl Earring” as Vermeer. I bet many thought it was by Rembrandt.
  • 42% of millenials couldn’t name Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.” Who cares?
  • 1 in 14 believe art is too pretentious for them to enjoy. Honestly, I’m surprised it isn’t higher.

Some suspect things:

  • 1 in 5 Americans would spend more time appreciating art if they had better access. I’m not sure I buy this because, people always say aspirational things but often do something else. 

And the really surprising:

  • 4% of Americans buy art regularly. Hmmm …
  • 85% of those who buy art say they will spend up to $500 on it. OK, this makes more sense — but how will any artist make a living if this is the preferred price point?

Art in the United States continues to be an enigma. This country has some of the strongest art institutions, best-known artists, and the most (and arguably the best) arts professionals in the world, yet the divide between the art community and the American public is something people are constantly trying to figure out. Maybe part of the appeal of American art is the constant desire by artists, curators, and other arts professionals here to expand the audience. What these stats don’t tell us is how we’re going to do that. What’s next?

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.