During the course of a lifetime, the vast majority of humans at some point seek engagement with the arts. Be it a painting, theater, movies or music; for thousands of years our species has sought to participate in an art form.
Our tastes are not only subjective but also invariably influenced by cultural norms, education and exposure. Consequently—while consensus does occur—the majority of individuals will judge artworks differently.
In the study titled The Brain on Art: Intense Aesthetic Experience Activates the Default Mode Network, published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal, Edward A. Vessel, G. Gabrielle Starr, and Neva Rubin conducted a series of brain scans on several volunteers and analyzed the respondent’s neural activity when presented with artistic stimuli. The team wanted to find out what determines artistic taste.
A group of 16 observes were presented with images of 109 artworks from the Catalog of Art Museum Images Online database and were instructed to rank each painting on a scale of 1-4 to answer the question “how strongly does this painting move you?”
Observers were instructed to “give your gut-level response, based on how much you find the painting beautiful, compelling, or powerful.”
The researchers found that the most moving artworks activated areas of the brain which effect “the evaluative and emotional dimensions of aesthetic experiences.”
The investigation concluded that “Observers have strong aesthetic reactions to very different sets of images, and are moved by particular images for very different reasons.”
The scientists explained that observers demonstrated similar levels of brain activity when viewing similar artworks. They note that “The ability to be aesthetically moved appears to be universal.”
The experts acknowledge that more research is required to figure out why our tastes vary. Yet finding scientific evidence supporting our intrinsic fascination with art is an important discovery which supports the notion that art has the power to connect people and different cultures.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, Edward A. Vessel—one of the academics who wrote the paper—is preparing a follow-up study titled How Variable, Stable, or Universal are Aesthetic Preferences? which will seek to find out why our aesthetic tastes are so different.
The doors are shut for good at New York’s Hasted Kraeutler gallery.
News first broke about the “unexpected closing” of the gallery, which was located at 537 W. 24th Street, in the July 24 edition of the industry newsletter the Baer Faxt. Josh Baer noted that things at the gallery had “turned very very ugly with accusations of financial improprieties against one of the partners by the other partner.”
“Basically there was some friction between myself and Sarah,” gallery co-owner Joseph Kraeutler told artnet News over the phone about his former partner Sarah Hasted. “And I brought up some concerns regarding finances and what gallery money was being used for.”
He said he had raised the issue with Hasted numerous times over the years. “There was always a very strong emotional reaction [from her] each time.”
Kraeutler claims that about a year ago he hired a forensic accountant to “investigate the books.” While he claimed it “eliminated the possibility” of their continuing to work together, he didn’t give any further detail. “There’s some serious matters for Sarah and I to handle,” he said.
One dealer, who spoke to artnet News on condition of anonymity, told us Hasted was rumored to have “disappeared.” Kraeutler further alluded to this alleged disappearance.
“She’s been hard to track down,” he said. “I’ve been trying to get the art back to the artists. But she apparently can’t be found.”
Hasted, however, told a different story.
“Clearly I haven’t gone missing, I’m talking to you,” Hasted told artnet News over the phone from New York. In response to Kraeutler’s statements and the rumors about financial impropriety, and specifically about the forensic accountant, Hasted said, “Everything he said is awfully inaccurate.”
According to Hasted, her brother died on Christmas Eve this past year and she decided to spend more time with her family in New Mexico and to “semi-retire” from the gallery business. “It was a huge loss…. A loss like that makes you reevaluate your priorities.”
She sent a formal note to gallery artists telling them about her plans to partially retire and claims she had many conversations with Kraeutler about it and was very clear about leaving the gallery. “Everyone was aware, it was no secret. I was communicating with everybody on a regular basis.”
Hasted said it was Kraeutler who had closed the gallery without telling her and that she was in New Mexico at the time she found out. “Joe was taking over the gallery. That was his plan. I think when he realized he couldn’t take over financially, he closed it. He made a unilateral decision to close it.”
According to Hasted, the lease was up in April. Weinberg Properties, which lists the building on its site as one of its properties, did not return a call for comment.
The last opening Hasted attended was in March for the Kim Dong Yoo show, “Living Together.” “It took me three years to put that show together,” said Hasted. “I installed that show and opened it.”