A bold revision of the history of European art, told through the lens of neuroscience
Ambitious and much anticipated, this book celebrates the value of recent neuroscientific discoveries as tools for art-historical analysis. Case studies ranging across the whole history of European art demonstrate the relationships between forms of visual expression and the objects of visual attention, emotional connection, and intellectual interest in daily life, thus illuminating the previously hidden meanings of many artistic styles and conventions. Art historians have until now concentrated on the conscious intentions of artists and patrons, but neuroscience provides insights into the role of non-conscious mental processes in the production and consumption of works of art. As John Onians powerfully argues, these insights have the potential to revolutionize cultural history. For the first time, an authority renowned for a more traditional approach has applied new neuroscientific knowledge to a wide range of art-historical problems, both familiar and fresh. The result is a provocative, original, and persuasive case for neuroscience as an aid to research in the humanities.
John Onians taught art history at the University of East Anglia from 1971 to 2007 and is now professor emeritus.
Won the 2017 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title
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