Exhibitions | 2015
Rebirth of Wonder
June 5, 2015 – June 7, 2015

Call for Bushwick 2015


Giorgio Vasari, the founder of modern art history, devotes his “Lives of the Most Eminent Painters Sculptors and Architects” to an endeavor beyond mere historiography. Vasari analyses the nature of art itself by describing in language bellissimo the arts of the Renaissance. He comes once and again on his reasoning to the sense of wonder, of amazement, of awe. The arts are products of genius, wonders of the Nature that resembles itself. Marvels that are recognized by an unequivocal sense of wonder. One who stands in front of The School of Athens “has great reason to marvel, for it amazes all who behold it”, the eminent Raffaello da Urbino was “left marveling and amazed” in presence of Leonardo’s works. Even when he describes the contribution of the patrons of the arts such as Lorenzo de Medici, the Magnificent, Vasari says that he put the means “to amaze the world”.

What do we really know five hundred years after Vasari’s book of wonder and awe? Although several theorists have attempted to define awe and related states, empirical studies of awe are almost non-existent. The scientific community has been taking the “sense of wonder”, more and more in consideration. In 1992 Paul Ekman posited that awe may be a distinct emotion. Recent work has documented a distinct facial expression for awe (Shiota, Campos, & Keltner, 2003), and has provided preliminary data on the personality variables associated with dispositional awe-proneness (Shiota, Keltner, & John, 2006). But it is still very difficult to find agreement on a description of this emotion, in part because the elicitors are so diverse, and the emotion’s function is unclear (Lazarus, 1991).

The most important study about this sense of wonder is “Approaching awe, a moral, spiritual, and aesthetic emotion.” By Keltner and Haidt in 2003. They support a vision of “awe” characterized by two features: perceptual vastness and need for accommodation. They understand vastness, of course, in a wide sense. A stimulus may convey vastness in physical space, in time, in number, in complexity of detail, in ability, even in volume of human experience. What is critical is that the stimulus dramatically expands the observer’s usual frame of reference in some dimension or domain, and that expansion of the frame of reference makes cognitive accommodation necessary.

From this point of view, the one of a contemporary Vasari, Art is what shakes you out of the frame you see the world through, and demands you to change, rethink, relocate, and awe in reverence at the vastness of this world.

Christian Brogi, Jennifer Celio, Amy Cheng, Mariano Del Rosario, Raquel Du Toit, Zachary Emig, Carolyn Frischling, Sunil Garg, Kikki Ghezzi, Sarika Goulatia, Robert Hardgrave, Benjamin Hersh, Bonny Leibowitz, Melissa Maddoni Haims, Therese Mathiesen, Daina Mattis, Keiko Miyamori. Suzanne Morlock, Gabriella Rouiller, Arlene Rush, Soyeon Shin, Christine Soccio, Shahar Tuchner, Hyojin Yoo, Seo Kyeong Yoon, Sun Young Kang, Guang Zhu.

FRIDAY 5th June 6:00 - 8:00 pm