Art has the ability to evoke emotions in perceivers. Looking or contemplating a painting for example may lead to various emotions like joy and pleasure or more negative feelings like fear, anger, or disgust. Emotions due to art effect on many different levels including subjective and bodily levels which influence people’s evaluation of the art (liking it or not). Researchers found that people show more positive facial expressions like slightly smiling in front of artwork that has emotionally positive content. Artwork with more negative content led to more negative facial expressions like frowning. These emotions can be more complex than happiness or discomfort. A painting may evoke many emotions at time that the brain integrates to produce one whole feeling. This feeling can be widely different in different people. The artist’s purpose in making art is to share and induce different emotions in the perceivers. Artists use different colors, represent different scenes, and communicate symbols that work on a subconscious level to convey a message or an emotion as the artist sees it.
Emotions in art are not as simple and straightforward as people thought they are. Paintings are usually abstract representations or representations of things that do not have real bases in the world. It is unclear how and why would humans produce an emotional response to visuals they know are unreal. Researchers think that in order to experience an emotion towards something, people need to believe the thing is real. Similarly, why and how would sound vibrations created by strings of musical instruments produce emotions is not well understood. Art may induce emotions in people but the picture of emotions as it relates to art is much more complicated and is not well understood.