I’m amazed by the message above, a neuroscientist’s take on our unconscious responses to viewing art. It suggests that most of our reactions to art are invisible, which is both an obvious idea and a shocking one. Many feel that they can deeply and objectively analyze art, but is our reaction more like an iceberg, mostly beneath surface?
Nobel winner Eric Kandel is not just an eminent neuroscientist, he’s a scholar of art and European culture in the golden age of Vienna. One of Kandel’s favorite subjects is Gustav Klimt, a highly erotic and symbolic painter famous for his golden-hued explorations of the female form. Above, looking at Judith and the Head of Holofernes, Kandel offers a glimpse of the neurotransmitters that silently influence the reaction of our brains, and our bodies, to works of art.
Check out Kandel’s masterful book The Age of Insight for more on how the scientific revolution of 19th century Vienna changed how we look at both the brain and art.