The psychological power of art

Vermeer's paintings on show at the Fitzwilliam demonstrate the psychological power art, according to an article in the Huffington Post.

Arts and culture writer Neil Simpson said that the Vermeer's Women: Secrets and Silence show itself mainly comprises of Dutch interiors and female figures, with the master's own works complemented by those of Cornelis Bisschop, Gerard ter Borch and other renowned practitioners.

Mr Simpson highlights the fact there is much more to this exhibition that just displays of homes and domesticity and that beneath this veneer lies a murky world of privacy, introspection and contemplation.

"It is with this intensely psychological theme that Vermeer, who sits slightly at odds with the intellectual games of many of the paintings, is revealed as the master," he stated.

Dr Michael Apter, Chartered Psychologist and author of Reversal Theory, concurred with Mr Simpson:

"Works of art always need to evoke some form of tension, and tension comes in many forms.  The most primitive, that goes back to cave paintings, and is the heart of all figurative art, is the simple tension of something appearing to be what it is not. 

Apter added that this tension reaches a high point in the realism of the Dutch genre painters, and perhaps most of all in Vermeer:

"Looking at paintings by Vermeer is like being a child again, observing with wonderment how lines and colors on a page become people and things.

"I refer to this kind of tension as a ‘cognitive synergy’ since it brings together in experience things that are incompatible and imposes them on each other in a way that creates something new.  – paint as, let us say, flesh or earth, flatness as depth, stillness as movement. This is the magic that will be on display at the Fitzwilliam."