Matters of the Artful Heart

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“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist.”  ~Schumann (from

As research continues into how the brain responds to art, one journalist is questioning whether art is being reduced to a basic scientific formula.  Why do we need to know how the brain responds to different types or styles of art?  Does this matter to artists or art lovers?

Tiffany Jenkins of The Scotsman, has an article titled, “Art is more than brain deep.”  Jenkins cites research being carried out at University College London by Professor Semir Zeki on neuroaesthetics.  According to Jenkins, Professor Zeki is working to define how and what in the brain determines beauty.  Apparently defining beauty by the brain’s reaction will assist artists, galleries and assorted “others” interested in making, marketing or presenting art in the decision process of what is defined as “beautiful.”

Jenkins is right in her argument that art should not be reduced to a scientific formula but does that really matter?  A scientific formula based on brain reaction does not necessarily follow that the heart will also react.  A work can create a brain response that may or may not be reciprocated by the heart.  Scientific formula based art will still lack heart.  Any art without heart will likely not speak to another heart.  Art decisions made by true artists and art lovers will be made from the heart, not the brain.  It is great to understand brain responses to art, but the most important response is and has always been the response of the heart.  Is anyone studying that response?  It’s the only one that matters.