There's a theory that seeing something over and over and over will
increase your acceptance of that thing. Applied to art, the idea
suggests that what we think of as "good art" is actually just the
stuff that we've seen a bunch of times.
A recent study found that people exposed to Thomas Kinkade paintings
liked his work less and less the more often they saw it.
I have some problems with this.
First off, the scope.
It's one thing to show someone a particular painting repeatedly and ask them their opinions on it to see how they change. It's anothing thing to grow up with Beethoven's 5th symphony suffused and cemented into your culture as an instantly recognizeable memetic reference. We're talking orders - of orders - of magnitude of difference here.
We're also talking about individual taste versus collective acceptance. If I show you a photograph that no one else has ever seen, you make up your mind about liking it or not for yourself. If I instead show you the same photograph as the cover of Time magazine, that actually substantially changes how you perceive and understand the image. Our opinions of things change drastically when we learn what other people think about those things. Consequently, when you grow up in a culture (like our own) where the Mona Lisa and the works of Shakespeare are venerated to the point that no one would ever seriously criticize or damn them publically, you are overwhelmingly influenced to share that same viewpoint, regardless of the quality of the works themselves.
Which leads into a different point I have. Thomas Kinkade and others like him have never been good artists - they've been good marketers. Kinkade wasn't good at painting - he and his business associates were good at temporarily convincing other people that he was good at painting, even despite the obvious evidence of the painting itself. They were good at getting people to judge the works subjectively instead of objectively. They used subtle social and psychological manipulations to try to endear consumers to the images, to distract them, to "compel" them to take notice, and then to purchase.
It's just like anything else. Nike shoes cost pennies to produce but sell for hundreds of dollars. Why? Because you aren't selling a shoe, you're selling a lifestyle or an attitude. This is why luxury car commercials are all full of abstract floaty serene imagery, and why truck commercials are full of grit and grime and tough imagery, and why alcohol commercials are full of people having fun and being social and not-directly-suggested-but-totally-implied having tons of sex.
The thing being sold isn't important - the thoughts and feelings you can influence someone to associate with that thing are. And just like Kinkade's work, if you repeatedly expose someone to any piece of commercial garbage outside of the context of proper advertizing and commercials, they'll eventually start seeing through the veneer and realizing the thing itself isn't all that great, and they're not entirely sure why they thought it was in the first place.
Those Nikes that looked so gorram amazing in the TV ad with the star athlete, and on the display stand in the storefront, and even sitting in their stylized cardboard box, stuffed full of tissue paper, or brand-new and shiny on your feet? Yeah, if someone had you sit down and stare at them for an hour or two, or even more, long enough that you got bored of only seeing the "imagined" version of the item and actually started looking at the physical object? Yeah, suddenly they look like just another pair of shoes.
But then again, you don't actually want to think that way, because you already spent $249.99 on them. To see them for what they really are would destroy the only value they ever had in your mind. You'd do just as well to throw them away.