Experiencing Art

ISBN : 9780190239077

Arthur P. Shimamura
304 ページ
181 x 254 mm
  • Unique position on aesthetics that considers vision, emotion, and prior knowledge as all influencing our complex experience of art.
  • The advent of new brain imaging methods reveals the links between brain activity and art experience.
  • Current academic dialogues across art and science are accessible, here, to the general reader.
  • This book features a variety of beautiful and challenging images from different corners of the art world to illustrate concepts at hand.

How do we appreciate a work of art? Why do we like some artworks but not others? Is there no accounting for taste? Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to explore connections between art, mind, and brain, Shimamura considers how we experience art. In a thoughtful and entertaining manner, the book explores how the brain interprets art by engaging our sensations, thoughts, and emotions. It describes interesting findings from psychological and brain sciences as a way to understand our aesthetic response to art. 

Beauty, disgust, surprise, anger, sadness, horror, and a myriad of other emotions can occur as we experience art. Some artworks may generate such feelings rather quickly, while others depend on thought and knowledge. Our response to art depends largely on what we know—from everyday knowledge about the world, from our cultural backgrounds, and from personal experience. Filled with artworks from many traditions and time points, "Experiencing Art" offers insightful ways of broadening one's approach and appreciation of art.


Chapter 1: Overture
Act I: The Art of Seeing
Chapter 2: The Eye as Canvas, the Brain as Beholder
Chapter 3. The Illusion of Form
Chapter 4: Making a Scene
Act II: The Art of Knowing
Chapter 5. How Do You Know?
Chapter 6: Remembrance of Past Things
Chapter 7: You Are Cultured
Act III: The Art of Feeling
Chapter 8: Arousing Emotions
Chapter 9: Body Language
Chapter 10: I Know How You Feel
Chapter 11: Coda


Arthur P. Shimamura is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He investigates human memory and cognition using neuroimaging techniques and studying individuals with memory disorders. Dr. Shimamura is a founding member of the Society for Cognitive Neuroscience, has been a scientific advisor for the San Francisco Exploratorium Science Museum, and received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship to explore art, aesthetics and brain.

"Shimamura has written the ideal introduction to what science can say about artworks, from prehistoric carvings to the latest video projections. It's readable, smart and informed. Better yet, it's a scientist's take that doesn't neglect the humanities: Shimamura cares about which neurons fire, but also about what Plato thought." - Blake Gopnik, art critic, Newsweek and The Daily Beast

"Shimamura's engaging book Experiencing Art bridges the perceptual gap between aesthetics and neuroscience by illuminating how we actually see and, ultimately, how we come to understand works of art. The book rewards even the most art-savvy reader." -Douglas Dreishpoon, Emeritus Chief Curator, and Leslie Zemsky, Former President of the Board of Directors, Albright-Knox Art Gallery