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How Does the Brain Perceive Art?

As someone who recently purchased a copy of The Story of Art, I found Jonah Lehrer’s Wired article on how the brain perceives art fascinating:

We want to believe that pleasure is simple, that our delight in a fine painting or bottle of wine is due entirely to the thing itself. But that’s not the way reality works. Whenever we experience anything, that experience is shaped by factors and beliefs that are not visible on the canvas or present in the glass. Even the most exquisite works in the world — and what is more exceptional than a Rembrandt portrait? — still require a little mental help. We only see the beauty because we are looking for it.


Jonah Lehrer is possibly the author of How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist.