Psychology of art

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Psychology has had a profound impact on the arts and their definition in the twentieth century.

One of the earliest to integrate psychology with art history was Heinrich Wölfflin (1864 – 1945), a Swiss art critic and historian, whose dissertation Prolegomena zu einer Psychologie der Architektur (1886) attempted to show that architecture could be understood from a purely psychological (as opposed to a historical-progressivist) point of view.<ref> Mark Jarzombek. The Psychologizing of Modernity (Cambridge University Press, 2000)</ref> The work of Theodor Lipps a Munich-based research psychologist played an important role in the early development of the concept of art psychology. Lipps), a prolific researcher, theorized the question of Einfuehlung or "empathy," a term that was to become a key element in the theory of art psychology. Another important figure in the development of art psychology was Wilhelm Worringer, who provided some of the earliest theoretical justification for expressionist art.

Though the disciplinary foundations of art psychology were first developed in Germany, there were soon advocates, in psychology, the arts or in philosophy, pursuing their own varients in the USSR, England (Clive Bell), France (André Malraux), and the US. In the US, the philosophical premises of art psychology were strengthened - and given political valence - in the work of John Dewey.<ref>Alan Ryan, John Dewey and the High Time of American Liberalism. W.W. Norton 1995. </ref> His 'Art as Experience was published in 1934, and was the basis for significant revisions in teaching practices whether in the kingergarten or in the university. Manuel Barkan, head of the Arts Education School of Fine and Applied Arts at Ohio State University, and one of the many pedagoges infulenced by the writings of Dewey, explains, for example, in his book, The Foundations of Art Education (1955), that the aesthetic education of children prepares the child for a life in a complex democracy. Dewey himself played a seminal role in setting up the program of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, which became famous for its attempt to integrate art into the classroom experience.

The growth of art psychology between 1950 and 1970 also coincided with the expansion of art history and museum programs. The popularity of Gestalt psychology in the 1950s added further weight to the discipline. The seminal work was Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality (1951), that was co-authored by Fritz Perls, Paul Goodman, and Ralph Hefferline. The writings of Rudolf Arnheim (born 1904) were also particularly influential during this period. His Toward a Psychology of Art (Berkeley: University of California Press) was published in 1966. Art therapy drew on many of the lessons of art psychology and tried to implement them in the context of ego repair.<ref> see for example: Arthur Robbins and Linda Beth Sibley, Creative Art Therapy . (Brunner/Mazel, 1976).</ref> Marketing also began to draw on the lessons of art psychology in the layout of stores as well as in the placement and design of goods.<ref>See for example, Creating images and the psychology of marketing communication, Edited by Lynn R. Kahle & Chung-Hyun Kim (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2006).</ref>

Art psychology, generally speaking, was at odds with the principles of Freudian psychoanalysis with many art psychologists critiquing, what they interpreted as, its reductivism. The writings of Carl Jung, however, had a favorable reception among art psychologists given his optimistic portrayal of the role of art and his belief that the contents of the personal unconscious and, more particularly, the collective unconscious, could be accessed by art and other forms of cultural expression.

By the 1970s, the centrality of art psychology in academe began to wane. Artists became more interested in psychoanalysis and feminism, and architects in phenomenology and the writings of Wittgenstein and Derrida. As for art and architectural historians, they critiqued psychology for being anti-contextual and culturally naive. Erwin Panofsky, who had a tremendous impact on the shape of art history in the US, argued that historians should focus less on what is seen and more on what was thought.<ref>Michael Podro The Critical Historians of Art (Yale University Press, 1982).</ref> Today, psychology still plays an important role in art discourse, though mainly in the field of art appreciation. <ref>See: Mark Jarzombek , Ibid.</ref>

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Psychology of art

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