Art impact on the brain

Art is the expression of the imagination. It provides a range of forms, symbols, and ideas with meanings that can be determined by the artist. Besides being pleasing to the eye, art impacts our mood and emotions in ways we sometimes do not recognize. It positively affects us, making us feel happier, calmer, or even inspired to do something.

In this year of lockdowns, when we stopped our usual social interactions, we saw that we generally became more negative and more depressed, missing so many ways to come in contact with art. Theatres, concerts, museums, exhibition halls were closed. We moved to live online – meeting online and consuming art online. Was the experience good enough? I doubt. As one of our artists mention in a survey about how they managed the sales of their artwork, she said, that as you cannot buy good tomatoes, without touching and choosing them, it is hard to ignore the part of the “falling in true love with the picture” moment, when seeing it in a gallery or the studio.

Art as a Therapy

Philosopher Alain de Botton and art historian John Armstrong have outlined the seven core psychological functions of art in their book „Art as a Therapy” which set up the basics of Art therapy.

  • REMEMBERING. …
  • HOPE. …
  • SORROW. …
  • REBALANCING. …
  • SELF-UNDERSTANDING. …
  • GROWTH. …
  • APPRECIATION.

They examine art’s deepest purpose: „its ability to mediate our psychological shortcomings and assuage our anxieties about imperfection.” (https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/10/25/art-as-therapy-alain-de-botton-john-armstrong/) Their basic proposition is that, beyond the aesthetic indulgence, art is a tool that serves a rather complex and important purpose in our existence: it „compensates us for certain inborn weaknesses, in this case of the mind rather than the body, weaknesses that we can refer to as psychological frailties.”

Art as Part of Our Lives

Given the mental importance of art, some areas of art have become a strong part of our everyday lives – films, music, even the images of advertising. Others we enjoy less often – like books, theatre, but impact us deeper and longer. And there are areas like visual fine art and sculpture, which did not find so deep connection to the wide public, which is surprising. We teach our kids for at least 10 years to draw, yet only a small group is really found in this art area. Why is that, when we tend to accept visual impulses much easier?

One reason may have been that you had to go to a museum or an exhibition to see a good picture. Thus more effort was required than to go to the radio or TV, or and streaming service. Only since Instagram, Facebook, and since the lockdown, when museums started to share online pictures, and the galleries had to move online, visual art became much more accessible.

Today all of us can follow endless groups, who share art online. We can follow artists, we like, and we can see each day a new creation.

And here comes the question like with every art type – which art is of real value. Are artists line Banksy only celebrities, or genius creators like Rembrandt or Picasso? What is needed to become a real brand in the visual art world? Like with any other brand consistent uniqueness, delivering benefits on all levels (functional by being pleasing, emotional by creating feelings, and reaching alignment on the self-esteem level.), and being recognizable, yet different and new over time is a must.  We praise creators, who brought innovation in art, but we usually do that later, after of moment of comprehension.

After so many years of creation, as visual art must have been besides singing the oldest format of art, is true innovation still possible, without losing contact and understanding of the broad public and still being visually pleasing.

Innovation Trials

Visual conceptual art became so trendy, but trying to tell the viewer an exact message, while still leaving him space to get into a dialogue is sometimes difficult to balance. Without this dialogue, an art piece does not serve its purpose to touch our brain and heart.  Good abstract art must keep us involved and focus on emotions – it shall encourage us to look, think, and if the impact is strong and deep enough, even to feel and do. Maybe even to co-create – write a poem or do our own creative act.

So, imagine life without this interaction. We argue later that reading allows more space for the imagination than watching a film, so does look at an abstract picture compared to a classical one. Nevertheless, a best-in-class realistic picture or film allows us to stay in a creative state of mind. Without creativity, our lives will become boring and difficult. So let look for as many interactions with art as we can.

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