Agence France Presse shares this fascinating piece of scientific research (for the record, pigeons are famous for their visual acuity):
The team — which previously published research saying that pigeons can tell a Monet from a Picasso — was seeking to find out whether the animals may also be able to prefer one to the other. […] The researchers then displayed the pictures on a screen to the birds and gave food rewards to those that picked at the “good” paintings while denying rewards to those pigeons that displayed poor artistic taste.
The researchers used a variety of images, including pastels and watercolours, still lives and landscapes, which were judged on their artistic merit, including how clear and discernible the images were. Through the month-long experiment, the pigeons learnt to peck only at “good” paintings said Professor Shigeru Watanabe of Keio’s Faculty of Letters and Graduate School of Human Resources.
Crucially, they responded appropriately even to paintings they had not seen before, said Watanabe. Keio University in a report clarified that the research “did not deal with advanced artistic judgements.”