Does Art Change Us?

“We’re drawn to art for many reasons, but one particularly powerful reason is to experience the feeling that we’re engaging with the mind of a great artist. Take away this possibility by telling us that the work was created by an assistant, a forger or a deep-learning machine, and we’re disappointed, even angered. As far as the effects of engaging with art, artmaking has positive effects on our mood, and viewing art allows us to engage with negative emotions in a way that’s protective and leads to the pleasurable experience of feeling moved. But whether or not the empathy we feel for the artist – say, for Rembrandt as an old man, or that which we feel for the characters in a narrative – actually changes our behaviour once we leave the world of the museum or the novel or film or play, those are as-yet unanswered questions.”

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