In the arts emotionally negative objects sometimes can be positively judged. Defining an object as art possibly yields specific changes in how perceivers emotionally experience and aesthetically judge a stimulus. To study how emotional experiences (joy, anger, disgust, fear, sadness, and shame ratings, plus facial EMG) and aesthetic judgements (liking ratings) are modulated by an art context ("This is an artwork") as compared to non-art reality context ("This is a press photograph") participants evaluated IAPS pictures and veridical artworks depicting emotionally positive and negative content. In line with the assumption that emotional distancing is an essential feature of the art experience we found that positive emotional reactions were attenuated (joy, M. zygomaticus activation) in an art compared to non-art context. However, context had little influence on negative emotional reactions (anger, disgust, fear, sadness, shame, and M. corrugator activation) suggesting that these are similar in art and non-art. Importantly, only artworks of emotionally negative content were judged more positively in an art context - thus liked more. This study, in accordance with the assumption of a distanced aesthetic mode, shows that an art context fosters appraisal processes that influence emotional experiences, allowing to judge negative stimuli aesthetically more positively - thus suppressing the immediacy of emotional stimulus content.