The visual arts belong to the oldest living testimonies of human aims and feelings regarding central topics like the material and the spiritual world, birth, life, and death. They form a fundus of common and differential concepts about human reality, and its occurrence is evident and witnessed in each human culture from the early beginnings. To study the arts in sculptures, buildings and paintings means to rely on common grounds of human ambitions to deal with the environment and elementary laws of living. Cultural comparison in addition contributes to see across the abundance and variances of human symbolization the common grounds of human visual concepts. Cultural specification thereby appears in a larger context.
Methodologically, the focus of research lies in cultural comparison as well as in the consideration of early evidences of art and visual symbolization. Whereas the comparing method has proved to be a means of unveiling trans-cultural formulations as possible convergent tracks in phylogenetic adaptations, the study of early sign-formation and schema-formation in archeology and ontogeny reveals a specific trail of encoding visual reality on common grounds. The major general issue of this access can be called: Anthropological universals and its cultural specifica.
An important issue in the study of visual arts remains the focus on aesthetic phenomena based on perception - which ties in with the oldest definitions of the term „aesthetics“. Perception belongs to the oldest systems in living organisms and indeed forms an important guideline for understanding selective feature-sensitive processes that we commonly attribute to specific „aesthetic“ behavior - as well as the evolutionary pressures behind them. Aesthetics can rely on an abundance of pre-adaptations in natural perception that in parts go back to the level of vertebrates, but includes further more processes of semantization that are similar to culturally elaborated judgments. Both kinds of biases are substantially referred to in the visual arts, playing part in a mutual process of communication.