Essay on The Psychological Effect of Art

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“A Deeper Look into the Unseen:
The Psychological Effect of Art”

Paintings, like many forms of art, are very subjective—what one may find intriguing another may completely disagree. “Art is physical material that affects a physical eye and conscious brain” (Solso, 13). To glance at art, we must go through a process of interpretation in order to understand what it is we are looking at. Solso describes the neurological, perceptual, and cognitive sequence that occurs when we view art, and the often inexpressible effect that a work of art has on us. He shows that there are two aspects to viewing art: nativistic perception—the synchronicity of eye and brain that transforms electromagnetic energy into neuro-chemical codes—which is "hard-wired" into the sensory-cognitive system; and directed perception, which incorporates personal history—the entire set of our expectations and past experiences—and knowledge (Solso, preface)
When looking at an art piece such as a landscape oil painting by Albert Bierstadt—American artist who created Yosemite Valley. “In 1859, he traveled westward in the company of a land surveyor of the U.S. government, returning with sketches that would result in numerous finished paintings” (wikipedia). The artist shows incredible attention to detail throughout the landscape. The use of reflections is extremely effective and visually accurate; the reflections in the water—clarity of trees, shrubs, pebbles, and rocks—might be one of the most noticeable features in this piece. The relative brightness creates the warmth felt in this painting. The interposition as well as the allusion of three dimensions provides a high level of depth. Aerial perspective is correctly used, furnishing the effect of distortion—the...

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... time passes and the observer looks deeper into the piece, several feelings or emotions may arouse. Some feelings such as warmth, comfort, anger, hostility, calmness, sadness, and indifference can spring from just seeing certain colors in an image. The overall effect created by the artist could vary from person to person; however, it can be seen how a painting can psychologically affect people.

Works Cited

"Albert Bierstadt." Wikipedia. 15 Sept. 2006. 26 Sept. 2006 .

"Color Psychology." About. The New York Times. 26 Sept. 2006 .

Gladwell, Malcom. Blink. New York: Lttle, Brown and Company, 2001. 11.

Solso, Robert L. The Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Concious Brain. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT P. 13-21.

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