Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Eyes of the Creators

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Eyes of the Creators

Article excerpt

THE SOURCE: "View Masters" by Margaret S. Livingstone and Bevil R. Conway, in Skeptical Inquirer, Nov.-Dec. 2006.

EVEN A PARTIAL LIST READS like a Facebook of 20th-century art: Marc Chagall, Gustav Klimt, Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Man Ray, Frank Stella, Willem de Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein, Andrew Wyeth, Pablo Picasso.

What unites this collection of originals is the likely diagnosis of stereoblindness--a misalignment of the eyes that prevents stereopsis. Ninety percent of the population automatically masters stereopsis, which is the ability to take the slightly different image recorded by each eye and merge the two images into a seamless three-dimensional scene. But about 10 percent fails. Margaret S. Livingstone, a neurology professor at Harvard Medical School, and Bevil R. Conway, a junior fellow at Harvard, write that misaligned eyes of the kind that can cause torment to a child on the playground may actually be an asset for an artist.

Livingstone and Conway studied photos of 53 famous artists and found that 28 percent of them were slightly cross-eyed or walleyed, or had otherwise misaligned eyes. …

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