Memory and Art Collection (06:34)
Eric Kandel received an honorary degree from University of Vienna Medical School; he and his wife collect modern Viennese art. Kandel had to leave Vienna at a young age; he discusses Freud’s motivation for collecting as a way to support memory.
Science and Art in 1900 Vienna (06:19)
The size of Vienna created an ideal atmosphere for the meeting of intellectuals across disciplines. Emperor Franz-Josef was liberalizing the empire, allowing people to move freely. Artists and architects began to develop ideas and aesthetics of modernism.
Developments in Medicine (06:56)
Carl von Rokitansky led the development of Austrian medicine at Allgemeine Krankenhaus, where he and his staff conducted autopsies. In collaboration with Joseph Škoda, Rokitansky learned the causes of certain sounds produced by parts of the body. Their discoveries influenced how physicians examined patients.
Salons and Freud on Sexuality (08:05)
Salons in Vienna brought together scientists and artists. Freud introduced the ideas of human irrationality and instinct, developing a cognitive concept of the mind. He wrote about a spectrum of sexuality, and though he had a limited sense of female sexuality, respected women professionally and had close female friends.
Gustav Klimt: Sexuality and Science (08:45)
Kandel argues that other writers and artists had insight into female sexuality. Klimt allowed models to pose in any way, and often portrayed them embracing sexuality; he incorporated Freud’s ideas of aggression and eroticism, as well as biological knowledge. He encountered scientific ideas at Emil and Berta Zuckerkandl's salon.
Oskar Kokoschka and the Unconscious (06:16)
Kokoschka was interested in the unconscious and portraying truth before beauty. He was among the first to paint adolescent female nudes, and was interested in conveying sexuality and aggression in subjects, including children.
Egon Schiele: Self-Exposure and Anxiety (09:17)
Schiele painted many self-portraits to explore emotions. George Prochnik presents the “Island of the Dead” as an important painting of the time. Kandel explains that Schiele and other modern painters rebelled against romanticism, but agrees they recognized problems in society.
Neurology of Beholder (07:40)
Alois Riegl formalized the connection between science and art—a painting is incomplete without the viewer’s response, and a viewer’s perception is based on previous works. Kandel studies viewers’ biological response to portraits; he is influenced by Rokitansky’s study of face recognition.
Face Recognition (07:00)
Lesions in the inferior temporal cortex lead to face blindness, but in a healthy brain, a specific area lights up when the person sees a face. Scientists discovered an entire system of recognition in the brain, which lights up more when features of the face are exaggerated. Artists like Schiele and Kokoschka understood this reaction intuitively.
Creativity in the Brain (05:18)
Prochnik characterizes Kandel’s book as a history of cartography. Kandel explains that this is the beginning of an exploration and a biological understanding will not replace enjoyment of art. Creativity often starts with a tapping into the unconscious.
Credits: The Age of Insight (00:07)
Credits: The Age of Insight
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