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Anthropomorphism in art

Published on 25 February 2020 at 01:22

A few months back I read an article by an art expert that claimed that anthropomorphism was something that was not done in the renaissance time, that in those days they respected their dogs to much to dress them up like that, followed by a link to a website that does paintings of dogs in renaissance clothes... 

The Facts.

First of all there is nothing disrespectful about anthropomorphism. On the contrary: making an object or animal look human is something humans did even in the Stone Age. It is comforting and recognizable and doesn't do any harm to the subject or animal, it's flattering we try to see similarities to feel more connected. There are whole marketing campaigns based on anthropomorphism and a lot of studies done about it concluding it's a positive phenomenon.

Quoting Wikipedia: 'Anthropomorphism may be beneficial to the welfare of animals. A 2012 study by Butterfield found that utilizing anthropomorphic language when describing dogs created a greater willingness to help them in situations of distress.Previous studies have shown that individuals who attribute human characteristics to animals are less willing to eat them, and that the degree to which individuals perceive minds in other animals predicts the moral concern afforded to them. It is possible that anthropomorphism leads humans to like non-humans more when they have apparent human qualities, since perceived similarity has been shown to increase prosocial behavior toward other humans.'

The problem starts when you start infrahumanisation, when you see a human less human, like me seeing the art expert a little less of an expert and a little more as a dumb cow. As an example.

Second thing of what bothered me about the article was the claim that these paintings were not done in the renaissance time. They were. They were even done on rock paintings in the pre-historic age. A quick Google search and you'll see.

Third thing and what may have bothered me most is that this article was clearly sponsored by the art company he mentioned, he linked to their webpage and put a photo of this company on his blog, without mentioning this was advertisement. By writing a 'critical' article he might have hoped we would not have noticed, but he was clearly infrahumanising us, thinking we were the dumb cows and we didn't notice he got sponsored... 

Let's enjoy our dogs painted as funny and recognizable, let's enjoy this art form and celebrate it, it's of all decades!


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