Art Stories March 2023

Can there be anything more satisfying than tax deductions, new Vermeers, and solving the mysteries of aesthetic appreciation?

Pets as a muse and tax deduction

Painting of a woman with red hair holding a cat
Joan Brown’s Joan + Donald, 1982, Oil enamel on canvas, 72 1/4 x 60 in. (183.5 x 152.4 cm), collection of Adam Lindemann. Venus Over Manhattan, New York

For artist Joan Brown, Donald wasn’t just her muse and companion, he was also her business asset. In fact, he appeared in so many of her paintings that she listed him as an income deduction!

The New Vermeer

Photo of a woman standing in front of an audience pointing to a Vermeer painting
Abbie Vandivere, a conservator from the Mauritshuis museum in the Haugue, teaches contestants on The New Vermeer about how Vermeer made his work. Photo by Mark de Blok, courtesy of Omroep MAX.

A new Dutch reality TV show, “The New Vermeer” (“De Nieuwe Vermeer”), has contestants vying to create new artworks in the style and themes of Vermeer. You can view the completed artworks online.

How your brain appreciates art

Photo of a woman sitting in a art gallery looking a three large paintings
Caltech researchers found a neural basis for aesthetic preferences in humans using a combination of machine learning and brain-scanning equipment. Image is in the public domain.

Researchers at Caltech used a combination of brain-scanning equipment and machine learning to predict volunteers’ taste in art. The study found that the brain analyzes art according to qualities like contrast, hue, and fidelity to determine if it’s pleasing.

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