$205 USD per device. 6 programs, held weekly over 1 month. Enroll in all 6 programs or choose only the ones that interest you. Each program is 60 mins, including time to ask questions and exchange ideas. Suitable for all ages, no background required.

  • Wednesdays, May 5, 12, 19, 26, June 2, and 9 at 10:00 am EST
  • Thursdays, May 20, 27, June 3, 10, 17, and 24 at 12:30 pm EST

We all look at art with an instant reaction: Love it. Hate it. Meh… But how can you go beyond this first glance and initial impressions? Using the ideas in David Perkin’s celebrated book The Intelligent Eye, you will learn how looking at art can help you slow down your mind, and even develop your intelligence. You’ll be rewarded with a richer experience the next time you’re face to face with art. This series focuses on the eye-brain connection and its amazing powers. We’ll also consider the limits of casual, distracted looking. We’ll look closely at a diverse selection of paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs and design objects from French and other European museums. Your Paris-based art historian instructor will lead you towards more meaningful looking, using techniques from cognitive science, art history, and meditation.

Your educator Pamela Warner earned her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Delaware, where she specialized in 19th-century French art and art criticism.  She taught art history at the University of Massachusetts and the University of Rhode Island, before returning to Paris full-time.  In 2014, Pamela created a yoga and meditation studio in Paris, where she explores the links between practice and perception, the eye and the mind, thoughts and expression. For Muse+Connect, she draws on both her classroom teaching and museum education experiences as a Paris Muse guide.

The Intelligent Eye: A Series features:

Beauty of the Seeing Mind

Did you know that your optic nerve provides about 80% of the sensory information that enters your brain? Seeing dominates our thinking patterns in ways we don’t realize. We will study the eye-mind connection, focusing on its strengths in our ordinary intuitive thinking. We often don’t realize how much we “see” in a single glance. We will use works of art to analyze how our eyes work. And we’ll also consider the complex question of whether or not we’re born with an innate visual intelligence, or if we can “get smarter” by learning to look better.

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Limits to the Seeing Mind

Our eyes are intelligent, but only up to a point. In this program, we’ll see some of the ways art confounds our habits of looking at things. Specialists can often describe or analyze art in a way that blocks or alienates people, discouraging us from gaining individual access to the riches of a broad spectrum of art experiences. We will discuss how the strengths of the eye can also give rise to four intelligence traps. Finally, we’ll cover a few basic questions you can ask, in order to enjoy more rewarding encounters with art objects.

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Slowing Down

We will practice taking our time in looking at art in order to overcome our tendency to rush. Lessons from the worlds of yoga and meditation will guide us and help develop an open and contemplative mind. Learners will receive blank perception logs to use for in-class exercises and also on their own. The goal is to share an authentic experience of the usefulness of art as a tool to manage stressful mind states in your everyday life.

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Broaden Your Perspective

We’ll start with a story about Warren, who hated his boss but loved his job. The solution he came up with demonstrates the rewards of broad, adventurous thinking. Our mind develops familiar grooves and our habitual thought patterns repeat on an endless loop. How can we nudge our brain out of its comfort zone? Art is a great tool for doing just that. This program includes puzzles to solve and a guided seeing log to help expand your thinking beyond the obvious. Together, we’ll develop your analytical thinking, ability to pose questions, test hypotheses, and reason verbally.

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Looking Deeply

Developing deeper insights takes us closer to the essential expressive messages of works of art. Giving yourself more time to look broadly will yield discoveries, and yet still we can come to conclusions that don’t hold up if we are skimming the surface. Applying more systematic and analytical approaches can help us sort out the jumble of ideas, feelings and thoughts generated by art. This process will challenge the popular idea of the sudden “lightbulb” moment of understanding. If that moment comes, it is often after a sustained period of rewarding engagement.

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Seeing When There’s Nothing There

Abstract art can challenge our ingrained habits of seeing. Often, an artwork that seems to lack readable content can hold us back from seeing it. This program will help you move, with an open disposition, from confusion to clarity when looking at modern art, allowing for a potentially richer encounter with it. Abstraction can be a great tool to practice slowing the eye down, looking broadly and deeply to see what questions emerge and examining what those questions reveal about our hidden expectations about art, about ourselves, or about life in general. If we can get over our fear of chaos on the canvas, there’s much to love. And maybe learning to accept it for what it is can be a model to approach other complex challenges, such as complicated people or situations at home or at work.
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Image: Edgar Degas, Visit to the Museum (Woman Viewed from Behind), 1879-1885, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

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