I’ve observed an effect for years, but, thanks to this article in today’s New York Times, I now have a name for it and an elegant definition.
A salient quote:
…human beings are, as more than a hundred studies show, prone to hedonic adaptation, a measurable and innate capacity to become habituated or inured to most life changes…Familiarity may or may not breed contempt; but research suggests that it breeds indifference.
This concept explains lot about art making and art collecting.
Why do artists always love their latest work? Because they haven’t become adapted to it.
Why do artists want to move on before their audience is ready for them to do so? Because the artist spends more time with the work than the audience, and thus adapts faster.
Why do gallery owners want artists to do familiar work? Or, stated another way, why does familiar work sell well? Because the prospective buyers have spent only enough time with the image to get comfortable, but not enough to become adapted. It’s only after they buy the photograph that they will become adapted.
Why does moving photographs around the house make them seem fresh and new? Because you adapted to them in the old position, and now that they’ve been moved, you appreciate them more – for a while, anyway.