A conversation with Prof. Stefano Mastandrea
“The beauty of art will save us”. Lots of intellectuals and artists had explained this concept in their works, sculptures, and paintings. It is important to underline the relevance of art and the multiplicity of points of view through which we can understand the message of the creator.
On November 17th, we had the pleasure to host Stefano Mastandrea, Associate Professor of General Psychology and “Psychology of the Arts” at Roma Tre University. Professor Mastandrea is also a member of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics implied in researches on visual perception and psychology of the arts.
At the very beginning of the conversation, the Professor stressed the role of psychology in the arts’ fields. Indeed, behind artistic representations, there is a scientific study and a certain mental process. Our guest made an analogy between art and emotions, also explaining the purpose of art in general: make a rediscovery of feelings in human beings.
The guest explained this concept showing paintings of famous artists and others of unknowns. Students seemed to be captured more by the famous paintings than the others, probably because they were able to recall the information they already had about those.
Popularity can in turn influence artists and their possibility to have their work presented and exposed to a vast and significant public. An example that was taken into consideration during the event was the “VOTE LOVE EU REFERENDUM”: a work of art made by Banksy that was rejected because it was presented under his anagram and not with his first name.
The second part of the conversation was focused on “art performed in museums”. There is a study on the psychological effect of the public visiting an exhibition. The reaction of children and adults was different: fun, sadness, happiness or melancholy. An example can be related to a mother or a father who can make some reflections about the Da Vinci’s “La Vergine Delle Rocce”, because they see in the face of the Virgin Mary their experience of life and family; on the contrary, a child would probably only feel happiness or sadness in reaction to the colors, for instance.
Later on, students had the pleasure to receive an explanation of the functioning of the human brain, given by Professor Mastandrea to get them to understand better its direct connections to art, and the consequent reactions we have when exposed to different kinds of artistic expressions.
In front of a masterpiece, blood pressure can get higher and the heart rate can increase. People with different cultures, religions or traditions can cry all together in front of the Gioconda. However, sometimes, even unknown paintings can generate such strong feelings, despite people’s backgrounds, especially if the people taken into considerations have no bias or preconceptions; a kind of attitude that seems to be perfectly fitting the Global Governance values.