Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Beauty and Universalism in Art

An accomplished artist, Marc Latamie has appeared as a guest lecturer at Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts Boston, and New York University. In his art, Marc Latamie strives for universalism.

Universalism revolves around the idea that beauty is deeply ingrained in human nature. Prior to his death in 2010, philosophy professor Denis Dutton authored a book called Aesthetic Universal, which examines the definition of universalism in the context of cognitive science and human evolution. The book explores the work of scholars such as Leo Tolstoy, Clive Bell, and Friedrich Schiller, all of whom addressed the universal meaning of art and its significance. Their studies had one specific element in common: the presupposition of a set of universal aesthetic preferences.

A study conducted by NYU tested whether or not beauty is truly “in the eye of the beholder.” Students were shown 109 paintings representing a number of cultures and historical periods. An MRI was used to measure blood flow within the brain of the subjects as they observed the paintings. Each subject was asked to rate the works on a scale of 1 to 4, depending on how greatly they were affected by each piece. The study showed that while the brain of each individual was engaged in the same way, the parts of the brain related to aesthetics differed from person to person. This leads to the conclusion that while aesthetic experiences are unique to individuals, commonalities still exist. 

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