Seminari An-Icon :: Vittorio Gallese, David Freedberg

10 may 2021 :: ore 18.15 :: Zoom link 


Vittorio Gallese

University of Parma and Columbia University

By exploiting the empirical approach of neuroscience and physiology, we can investigate the brain-body mechanisms enabling our interactions with man-made images, shedding light on the functional mechanisms enabling their perceptual experience. In so doing we can deconstruct some of the concepts we normally use when referring to aesthetics and art. According to Hans Gumbrecht (2004), aesthetic experience involves two components: one deals with meaning, the other one with presence. The notion of presence entails the bodily involvement of image beholders through a synesthetic multimodal relationship with the artistic/cultural artifact.

I will present some results of our research showing that the creative expressive processes characterizing our species, in spite of their progressive abstraction and externalization from the body, keep their bodily ties intact. Creative expression is tied to the body not only because the body is the instrument of creative expression, but also because it is the main medium allowing its experience.


David Freedberg

Pierre Matisse Professor of the History of Art and Director of The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America


Problems of distinction. The stubborn persistence of embodiment. Some Lessons from Frieze. Handling. An-iconology is always iconology. The implications of such quibbles for interactivity.


Vittorio Gallese, MD and trained neurologist is Professor of Psychobiology and Cognitive Neuroscience at the Dept. of Medicine & Surgery of the University of Parma, Italy, Adjunct Senior Research Scholar at the Dept. of Art History and Archeology, Columbia University, New York, USA, and Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Philosophy of the School of Advanced Study of the University of London. Cognitive neuroscientist, his research focuses on the relation between the sensorimotor system and cognition by investigating the neurobiological and bodily grounding of intersubjectivity, psychopathology, language and aesthetics. His major scientific contribution is the discovery of mirror neurons, together with the colleagues of Parma, and the development of a new model of perception and imagination: Embodied Simulation Theory. He is the author of more than 300 scientific publications and three books.

David Freedberg is best known for his work on psychological responses to art, and particularly for his studies on iconoclasm and censorship (see, inter alia, Iconoclasts and their Motives, 1984, and The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response, 1989). His more traditional art historical writing centered on the fields of Dutch and Flemish art. In recent years he has turned his attention to seventeenth century Roman art and to the paintings of Nicolas Poussin. He has been involved in several exhibitions of contemporary art (eg. Joseph Kosuth: The Play of the Unmentionable (1992)). Following a series of important discoveries in Windsor Castle, the Institut de France and the archives of the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome, he co-authored a number of catalogs of the natural history drawings in the Royal Collections and turned his attention to the intersection of art and science in the age of Galileo. His chief publication in this area is The Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, his Friends, and the Beginnings of Modern Natural History (2002).

Although Freedberg continues to teach in the fields of Dutch, Flemish, French, and Italian art of the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries, as well as in historiographical and theoretical areas, his research now concentrates on the relations between art, history, and neuroscience. He is currently engaged in writing two books: 1) Dance, the Body and Emotion; 2) Art and the Brain, with particular reference to emotion and movement. He continues to hope that he will be able to return to his longstanding project on the cultural history of the architecture and dance of the Pueblo peoples.


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