ERIC Number: ED388602
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990
The Art of Seeing: An Interpretation of the Aesthetic Encounter.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly; Robinson, Rick E.
This study attempts to gain information concerning the receptive, as opposed to the creative, aesthetic experience by talking to museum professionals who spend their working lives identifying, appraising, and explicating works of art. The study is based on an underlying assumption that rules and practices for looking at art exist and must be mastered if success is to ensue. The anthropological research approach uses semi-structured interviews and subjects the responses to systematic analysis. Major conclusions emphasize the unity and diversity of the aesthetic experience. The structure of the aesthetic experience is found to be an intense involvement of attention in response to a visual stimulus, for no other reason than to sustain the interaction. The experiential consequences of such a deep and autotelic involvement are an intense enjoyment characterized by feelings of personal wholeness, a sense of discovery, and a sense of human connectedness. The aesthetic content requires two sets of preconditions that make the experience possible: the challenges contained in the object and the skills of the viewer. While the structure of the aesthetic experience is rated similar in terms by all the respondents, the challenges, or content stimuli that triggers the experience vary considerably. These challenges of art are the formal structure of the work, its emotional impact, the intellectual references it carries, and the opportunities it creates for a dialogue among the artist, his time, and the viewer. Without this content challenge there would be nothing to arrest the viewer, and consequently no experience. Level of skill is critical. Challenges and skill must be nearly in balance for the attention to become focused. A complex work of art will engage only a person who has developed complex visual skills. The book is divided into six chapters and concludes with appendices. "Interview Questions for Museum Professionals" and "Aesthetic Experience Questionnaire Form." Contains approximately 100 references. (MM)
Descriptors: Aesthetic Education, Aesthetic Values, Art, Art Appreciation, Art Criticism, Audience Response, Critical Viewing, Higher Education, Museums, Perception, Professional Education, Sensory Experience, Skill Analysis, Visual Arts, Visual Literacy, Visual Stimuli
Getty Center for Education in the Arts, 401 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 950, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Publication Type: Books; Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Getty Center for Education in the Arts, Los Angeles, CA.; J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA.