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Special Lecture - Eric R. Kandel, M.D.

The BSi would like to thank Baltimore's Art Seminar Group and The Walters Art Museum for all their hard work and dedication on such a successful collaborative event.

“The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain from Vienna 1900 to the Present”
Dr. Eric R. KandelIn Celebration of Gary Vikan
Eric R. Kandel, M.D.,
University Professor & Kavli Professor of Brain Science
Director, The Kavli Institute for Brain Science
Co-director, The Mind Brain Behavior Initiative
Columbia University Medical Center
Senior Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The lecture is now availble for viewing.


In my talk I will focus on how the new biological science of mind has begun to engage with figurative art. I will limit my discussion to one particular art form—portraiture—in one particular cultural period—modernism in Vienna, 1900.

I focus on Portraiture because it is a highly suitable art form for scientific exploration. We now have the beginnings of an intellectually satisfying understanding of how we respond to the facial expressions and bodily postures of others.

I focus on portraiture in the period “Vienna 1900,” because this artistic school of painters can be explored in depth. There are only three major artists – Klimt, Kokoschka and Schiele – yet the school is important in the history of art both collectively and individually. Moreover, the concern of these artists with the truth lying beneath surface appearances of their subjects was paralleled and influenced by similar concerns with unconscious mental processes in contemporaneous scientific medicine and psychoanalysis. Thus, the portraits of the modernists, in Vienna 1900, also represent an ideal example of how artistic, psychological and scientific insights can enrich one another.


Sponsored by the BSi and The Art Seminar Group.

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