What is it that makes the work of Monet, van Gogh, da Vinci, and Warhol so visually arresting? How do our eyes and brains coordinate to perceive line and color?
Neurobiologist Margaret Livingstone addresses these and many other questions in Vision and Art, a lively look at the science underlying art. She writes accessibly, but with plenty of technical depth, on such matters as the nature of light and the visible spectrum, the organization of visual-image processing, the structure of the vertebrate eye and brain, and individual and culturally conditioned perceptions of color. Using well-known works of art as case studies, she offers fascinating bits of trivia (on, for instance, how pastels are made and why purple dyes are so rare) alongside practical information for artists (for example, how high-contrast contours and evenly distributed luminance attract the eye).
The result is a literate, lucid blend of art and science that will appeal to artists and connoisseurs alike. --Gregory McNamee
From Publishers Weekly
Harvard Medical School neurobiology professor Margaret S. Livingstone explains how great artists exploit the functions of the human eye and brain in Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing. Livingstone, whose biological explanation of why the Mona Lisa's smile appears enigmatic stirred much interest when it appeared in the New York Times, here offers a detailed explanation of how elements like perspective, luminance, color mixing, shading and chiaroscuro produce certain effects in art works. She discusses da Vinci's use of contrast, the illusory three-dimensionality of Impressionist paintings and why Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie gives the impression of motion.
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