LOOKING BOTH WAYS at PEM

Explore some of the artistic and cultural connections between works in Looking Both Ways and works from PEM’s permanent collection.

Click a thumbnail image below to begin exploring.

The sensory properties of art are often what a viewer notices first, but they are not alone in triggering our responses to a work of art.

Our reactions to art are formed by virtually simultaneous sensory, emotional, and psychological input. Every healthy human being’s biological and neurological mechanisms for processing stimuli are the same. However, our emotional and intellectual responses to stimuli are highly variable. All the factors that make individuals unique are brought to bear, including culture, gender, family history, personal experience and intellectual ability.

Even though the sensory properties of art, also called art “elements” and “principles,” are among many influences on a person’s response to art, it can be interesting to single them out for consideration in order to more fully appreciate our reactions. Together, art elements and principles also provide a useful framework for building greater comprehension of more challenging works. A visual artist may be thought of as using art elements (“words”) and art principles (“grammar”) to convey ideas through imagery much like a writer conveys ideas through language.