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Neuroarthistory: From Aristotle and Pliny to Baxandall and Zeki
by John Onians
This provocative book offers a fascinating account of neuroarthistory, one of the newest and most exciting fields in the human sciences. In recent decades there has been a dramatic increase in our knowledge of the visual brain. Knowledge of phenomena such as neural plasticity and neural mirroring is making it possible to answer with a new level of precision some of the ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published March 19th 2008 by Yale University Press
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Onians is a brilliant man, but I was disappointed at this recent effort. It's mostly a lit review/state of the field rehash of art historians and neuroscientists who have dealt with the mind/psychology and visual phenomena, as the title suggests. Hopefully more truly new scholarship will soon be published--if not authored by Onians, then by his student Lauren Golden and others. If you're new to this sub-field, however, it would be a good place to start.
This book was a sort of 'love at first sight' one for me. From the title (a concept well developed by the author) to the end, it presents a new light to understand art history. The main question seems to be 'what happens to your brain when you look at a painture?'. Professor Onians answers it by looking back to some decisive points in art history and criticism.