What is Artistic Ability?

Well, chickens, since we have a whole lot of artistic folks runnin' round our blogger neighborhood, I thought mebbe we could take a look at a story from the New Yawk Times that a friend left on the front porch early this mornin'.

Looky at this paintin' of the mathematical value of Pi.
It were done by a lady scientist/ mathematician, Anne Adams, after her frontal lobe were dinged up by a disease...

Seems thar's a rare disease that takes away yore speakin' ability but gives ya' amazin artistic ability as a compensation. Called Pick's disease, it is a rare form of frototemporal dementia. More common in women than men. It can occur in people as young as 20, but usually begins between ages 40 and 60. The average age of onset is 54.

The historians think that "Bolero" was composed when Ravel was beginning to exhibit the same signs of Pick's:

"showing signs of his illness with spelling errors in musical scores and letters.

“Bolero” alternates between two main melodic themes, repeating the pair eight times over 340 bars with increasing volume and layers of instruments. At the same time, the score holds methodically to two simple, alternating staccato bass lines.

“ ‘Bolero’ is an exercise in compulsivity, structure and perseveration,” Dr. Miller said. It builds without a key change until the 326th bar. Then it accelerates into a collapsing finale."

This is how Dr. Adams painted a migraine:

Ya can see the mathematical influence, the repetitive order.

This is how the docs describe here case:

Later paintings, achieved when AA was nearly mute, moved towards increasing photographic realism, perhaps because visual representations came to dominate AA's mental landscape during this phase of her illness. Neuroimaging analyses revealed that, despite severe degeneration of left inferior frontal-insular, temporal and striatal regions, AA showed increased grey matter volume and hyperperfusion in right posterior neocortical areas implicated in heteromodal and polysensory integration. The findings suggest that structural and functional enhancements in non-dominant posterior neocortex may give rise to specific forms of visual creativity that can be liberated by dominant inferior frontal cortex injury.

Ain't humans amazin' creatures? Next time I meet a person whose labeled wif' dementia, I'se gonna git 'em some paper and crayons and see what they wanna "say."


moi said...

The brain is indeed a wild and woolly place, isn't it? In many ways, the last frontier.

I do think the question, what is art/artistic ability, is an important one, though, and this is more food for thought. Thanks for sharing!

Gnomeself Be True said...

My mother had a bicycle accident about 25 years ago. She had about 25% of her brain removed to save her life.
It's a miracle that she's mostly functional now...but not artistic.

Aunty Belle said...

Moi, shoe designers are artistic!

Okay....what I really wanna say is that I was jes' blown away when I learned about idiot savants...then (in college) worked wif' autistic adults (one semester only). It is both sad and exhileratin'--that the brain is so complex, an' that what we know ain't the whole of it.

When I visit ole' floks, an they seem to have that glint in they eye, but cain't tell ya what time of day it is...I still think they knows somethin' I don't.

Iamnot, good news that yore Mama is "mostly functional" --I hope to catch up wif' her soon.

I ain't artistic much. I think I sees and knows good art from bad, good music, but I cain't make either. I hear it in mah haid, but it woan come out mah mouth the way I want it to--dang it!

With art, I think I could learn to be a technician--to execute a decent drawing --but it would lack that artistic flair, the "eye" that sees what the rest of us need to be shown--like ya does wif' yore camera.

Gnomeself Be True said...

Well Aunty,
I tried for years to draw and even paint a bit. I almost became technically proficient with a pencil...almost.
I don't believe I can create beauty...but I do seem to be able to find it in places and ways that others miss. Sometimes I'm able to capture and convey what I see.
Perhaps that is art. I like to think so.

sparringK9 said...

i love "art brut" its like the insane wing of outsider art. there are some MAJORLY specific visions in this group. some are such worlds that you would never think of it on your own nor forget it once its seen

as for the woman who couldnt speak but draw well - that would be mr shes dream come true. interesting post i will be back to pontificate further. grrherha

ThursdayNext said...

I was reading the paper today about elephants painting...it was fascinating.

darkfoam said...

yes, this subject matter is fascinating.
i love the repetition and patterns as exhibited in these works. perhaps when you function in a certain way repetition, order, patterns are comforting. but i'm just speculating.

Anonymous said...

Yes Iamnot, you do find or see what us'uns doan notice til a show us.

Thursday, elephants? I heered they was rather intelligent. Would like to learn more.

She-pup, Art brut? new to me--tell us more.

Foamy, yes, seems that pattern is order--I think when your brain or life is disordered ya work hard to create order and stability in other arenas--or something along those lines.

Aunty (From a far--I'se off to Washington D.C. fer work, so ya'll hold the fort!)

Karen said...

I love that composition "Bolero". It's a very moving piece of music and it was only fitting that when Torvill & Dean ice skated to it they scored four perfect 10's. Almost unheard of.