Experiencing pictorial artworks: The role of intersubjectivity

Federica Savazzi, Gabriella Gilli, Simona Ruggi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The Complexity of Aesthetic Experience Images are able to catch our attention and involve us in the world they depict – a world of sensations, emotions, and thoughts. Of the variety of images to which we are exposed in our daily life, art images have the power to move the observer in an even stronger way than other images. According to Arnheim (1981), art is a quality present in all objects, whether artificial or natural, provided that they are endowed with “expressive dynamics.” “Expressive dynamics,” as opposed to the practical quality, is the distinctive feature of the artistic quality. However, differently from common artifacts, artistic images represent the purest and most intense example of that “art phenomenon” present in nuce in all objects. Therefore, a work of art shows particular formal features and triggers in the observer a variety of processes ending in an aesthetic evaluation. The aesthetic behavior connected to a work of art consists of a feeling through the senses (aisthanomai = I feel, I perceive with my senses, I comprehend) as well as of comprehension of something that has been created in a complex, ordered, and rigorous way that means “artistically” made (arë = to articulate, to ordinate). Consequently, a common view within cognitive sciences and psychology is to consider aesthetic experience as characterized by a peculiar and complex weaving of perceptive, emotional, and cognitive processes (Jacobsen 2006; Leder, Belke, Oeberst, & Augustin 2004; Massironi 2000; Argenton 2008).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReflective Thinking in Educational Settings: A Cultural Framework
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9781139198745, 9781107025738
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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