Researcher and art historian Jonathan Fineberg discusses the evolutionary and neurological benefits of looking at art.
Jean Dubuffet, “Fluence,” (November 19, 1984), acrylic on canvas-backed paper, 39 1/2 x 52 3/4 in (photo by Ellen Page Wilson, courtesy Pace Gallery; © 2013 Jean Dubuffet/Artists Rights Society/ARS, New York / ADAGP, Paris)
We now know that certain forms of visual art increase connectivity and plasticity in our brains when we engage with their nebulous compositional propositions. Such alternative, neuroplastic wonderlands are something that Jonathan Fineberg is tackling as director of an emerging art-science Ph.D. program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
The program’s budding syllabus is something of an apogee to Fineberg’s carer, building on his experiences as Professor of Art History Emeritus at the University of Illinois and Trustee Emeritus of the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC — where he was founding Director of the Center for the Study of Modern Art. In preparation for this endeavor, Fineberg studied psychoanalysis at the Boston and Western New England Psychoanalytic Institutes. He has curated numerous exhibitions and received numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Fellowship in Critical Writing, the NEA Art Critic’s Fellowship, senior fellowships from the Dedalus Foundation and the Japan Foundation, and the College Art Association’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in the History of Art.
Recently, I talked with him about the innovative neuroaesthetic Ph.D. program that he and his colleagues are now developing at the University of the Arts; about Donald Trump, art, and politics; and about his newest book on modern art and neuroaesthetics, Modern Art at the Border of Mind and Brain.