Composition and Emotion

Freedberg, David A.

In The Power of Images (1989), I described some of the current symptoms of emotional responses to paintings and sculptures thoughout history. Here I take the problem one step further and suggest that one of the tasks of future interdisciplinary work between the neurosciences and the history of art might be to examine the relationship between how pictures look and the emotional responses they evoke. This chapter rejects the notion that such a relationship may be too ragged to plot. In it, I give some examples -- from the history of painting and the history of music -- where efforts have been made to connect particular compositions with particular emotional states. Poussin's proposal (1647) suggests future possibilities for research in this area.


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Also Published In

The Artful Mind: Cognitive Science and the Riddle of Human Creativity
Oxford University Press

More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Published Here
April 7, 2010