For Teachers: Using the Exhibit in Higher Education
Introduction to the curriculum
Human vision is like a clock: it works in a very particular way. The exhibit Color Art and Vision teaches students how human vision works and has influenced on Western art.
Art and science are not always an obvious pair. This interdisciplinary study combines the neurobiology of vision and art history. The exhibit focuses on the eye and its response to color interactions and contrasts, luminance and equluminance, and peripheral vision, in reference to artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Wassily Kandinsky, Bridget Riley and Jim Lambie. Although these artists of different decades and centuries have not always been aware of neurobiology, their exploration of color and vision has enhanced their visual language of representation and demonstrates many neurobiological points about the interaction between color and the eye. The exhibit also explains color theories by scientists such as Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Michel Chevreul and aims to clarify the impact of different paints such as oil and egg tempera.
The exhibit can be used as a resource for a variety of courses in higher education. It provides a helpful introduction to a wide range of issues related to color and vision and is accessible to students who are unfamiliar with these concepts. Therefore, the exhibit is particularly helpful for foundation or first year undergraduate courses that aim to offer an introduction to key elements of art history to students who have no previous or a limited experience in the subject. Alternatively, the exhibit can be used a resource for class discussion in more advanced courses that deal with color-oriented artists and movements. Besides art historical understanding, neurobiological knowledge can provide better understanding of movements such as Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism or Op Art.