Tell us something we don’t know: why science can’t show us much about art

3762“The scientific ‘discovery’ that Van Gogh’s art changed after his 1888 breakdown proves a forensic approach is no match for the subjective eye of an art lover.

“There are objective results in science. There is no objective truth in art. It exists in our eyes and in our imaginations. I happen to agree with the research behind this latest Van Gogh investigation – that he got more strident and emotional in his art as his mental health declined – to the extent that I find the results obvious. But someone who has spent years looking at Van Gogh might disagree – she might see this as a melodramatic interpretation and argue that Van Gogh is not really an expressionist painter at all but a student of light and colour. That’s a valid point of view too, whatever the science says.

“Thanks to science, we know that we live on a rock orbiting a mediocre star in a mediocre galaxy. But we won’t ever invent a science that can tell us what Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night is about. The data lies hidden in our souls.”

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