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New research claims Monet manipulated light and colour

Monday 15 April 2019

French impressionist Claude Monet's paintings are world renowned for their dreamy depictions of nature. A new study claims that the transfixing qualities in Monet's art may have something to do with science and the ways in which our brain interprets colour, asserting that Monet manipulated light and colour to 'trick' our eyes.

The researchers, from the University of Rochester ‘s Center for Visual Science, studied a number of paintings from Monet's famous Waterloo Bridge series, and came to the conclusion that he paints in a sophisticated way in which the science of his time would not have understood.

Our retinas are made up of three types of cone which each interpret different wavelengths of light, which correspond very closely to the colours in Monet’s limited palette.Once our retinas process this information, it then travels to the visual cortex in the back of the brain, which then transmits it to 'higher-level parts of the brain,' such as those that deal with memory and experience’.

Other techniques the researchers claim Monet uses which achieve a similar ‘deception’ include using different coloured brushstrokes next to one another to create simultaneous contrast, and depicting elements of light, shadow, and contrast to paint the 'illusion' of a 3D bridge.

'You may know it’s an illusion but your brain automatically groups things and lets you know that it is a three-dimensional scene,' Duje Tadin, a professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, explained.

The scientific theory is accompanied by a wonderful exhibition featuring 8 paintings in the series. To see a video and read more about the science involved, click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVv102g7RZY

Sources:

1.The University of Rochester:
The science of seeing art and color.

2.Daily Mail:
How Monet's masterpieces manipulate our brain: Scientists reveal what makes the art 'trick' our eyes.

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