The pulse of modernism: Experimental physiology and aesthetic avant-gardes circa 1900

When discussing the changing sense of reality around 1900 in the cultural arts the lexicon of early modernism reigns supreme. This essay contends that a critical condition for the possibility of many of the turn of the century modernist movements in the arts can be found in exchange of instruments, concepts, and media of representation between the sciences and the arts. One route of interaction came through physiological aesthetics, the attempt to ‘elucidate physiologically the nature of our Aesthetic feelings’ and explain how works of art achieve their effects. Physiological aesthetics provided the terms for new formalist languages of art and criticism, and in some instances suggested optimistic, even utopian, possibilities for art to remake human individuals and societies.Keywords: Physiology; Psychology; Evolution; Aesthetics; Modernism; Art history
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2008.06.011
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