The Experimental Psychology of Beauty

By C. W. Valentine | Go to book overview

picture nor the editor's explanatory comments, nor had the other women student (h) whom I quote next.

Student (h) also finds this picture "pleasing" and "beautiful". She writes:

A picture which is silent; it suggests a struggle of the personality against unknown forces. It suggests a future struggle after death. It is also a little frightening though fascinating. . . . A picture with extreme depth of thought lying behind it. Very thought provoking. Good use of lighting to enhance the subject and presentation.

Finally, I shall quote one of the men who also took a specially great interest in these experiments, and who writes as follows on this picture:

This picture is very striking. It is pleasing because the thought or idea behind it is very interesting but elusive. The memory seems desolate, and the impression I get is that the memory has conjured up a past event which the artist has interpreted as the possibility of the future desolation of the world. It seems to give an impression that George Orwell created in the book 1984. The effect is of 'a silent timeless, inanimate world'. There is certainly beauty in the picture if the lifeless object in the centre is omitted. The colouring gives a soft crystal-like clarity.

It will be seen that the students' reactions agree generally in finding the picture a sombre one; but the most obvious symbolism in the picture -- the flaccid watches -- suggests the timelessness of eternity to one student; and nothing special at all to the other two; and none of their reports shows much resemblance to the interpretations of the editor.


Summary and main results of the experiments on modern Art

Here I may give one or two general observations on the students' reactions to the modern pictures. First the pictures were not usually, if ever, rejected merely because they were very modern or unconventional. I got the impression that the students approached them with an open mind so far as they could. I had explained why I thought them good subjects to have these presented, viz. that they should, as selected music students, be sensitive at least to some forms of beauty and yet they were young enough to be unsophisticated in Art matters.

A second general observation one could make is that surprisingly

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