From a scientific and evolutionary point of view, we are attracted to art. But why? The beauty of the person I can understand. According to most theories out there we are attracted to bodies that appear healthy and reproductive.
But art? Huh?
Among the many theories I’ve shared in this blog, here’s one that I find particularly fascinating. I’m basing my summary of this theory on an excerpt I read in the NY Times. I have to admit, it was one of these articles that took me five times of careful reading to understand, and I probably only understood 20% of it. BUT, I think I “got” the most important 20%.
According to the author, Eric Kandel, and based off of numerous neurological experiments, it’s been proven that our brains are wired to respond to the beauty of art. But why have our brains formed that way? We are attracted to art because we want to understand and share in the thinking of the artist. It’s an inherent desire. As Kandel writes: “our response to art stems from an irrepressible urge to recreate in our own brains the creative process – cognitive, emotional, and emphatic – through which the artist produced the work.” In other words, through art appreciation we aren’t only just observing a beautiful creation, but actually getting into the brains of the artists and learning how they think.
My question is whether we’re conscious of this in any way. So much of beauty is visceral, no? Though, after reading this theory I can sort of see it in my own behavior; I just never thought of it that way.
I guess the next time I see a beautiful piece of art, I’ll have to see if I recognize this myself.