This section contains essays, articles and books on seeing and learning about fine art, along with why and how to collect. Also others’ collections are provided as examples for study.
Fifty years ago it was believed that light struck the retina, impulses went to the brain and the brain synthesized these impulses into a picture. In this view one could look at an object with an innocent eye, the mind an empty blackboard, and the light rays would draw a picture. This concept of the physiology of vision coincided with growing interest in formalistic art criticism; judge of line, color, composition, etc. independent of their effect upon the observer.
There is still much controversy about how we see, but increasingly the belief is growing that what has been stated above is wrong. Gombrich said, "The innocent eye sees nothing."
There is much evidence that we have in our brains certain patterns or sets and when a new vision comes via the retina we relate it to whichever of our pre-existent patterns it fits most closely. Thus we see in terms of our expectations. Similarly with hearing - a foreign tongue sounds very rapid to us because we do not have strong patterns of hearing built up and therefore we are trying to listen with "an innocent ear." The patterns in our brains are culturally created, we are not born with them.
In view of the above there can be no non-objective art. If a shape does not have an unequivocal meaning, we will interpret it according to whichever of our patterns it fits best.
Since our brain patterns are perpetually being altered by exposure to our environment, we shall actually see differently than our pre-computer screen, pre-television, pre-billboard etc. It is not a case of seeing the same and having different preferences, the fact seems to be that we actually see different things. Similarly our children will have patterns of visual perception different from ours and therefore they will see things we do not see in the art works of their generation. Only by perpetually exposing oneself to new visual stimuli so the new patterns are created to some extent can we even approximate the desired end of remaining visually perceptive. Even then it now appears that we are bound to be “children of our generation,” which was not evident to optimists who conceived the innocent eye.
Prometheus (Bound) No.'s 1 to 33 1961 to 1972 The Philadelphia art world as refle. by Paul Todd Makler, MD. Philadelphia, PA. p.160-161