Sunday, August 07, 2005

"In Italy, the magnetism of museums is irresistible. Last June the Roman Institute of Psychology released the results of a national study involving 2,000 visitors that found 20 percent of them had embarked on an "erotic adventure" in a museum. Also according to the study, a Caravaggio painting or a Greek sculpture is more likely to lead to sex than works by Tiepolo or Veronese. The experts have even compiled a hit parade of Italian museums, listing the institutions in order of their ability to awaken Eros. This state of emotional arousal has been called the Rubens Syndrome, a term derived from the sensuous, superannuated nudes painted by the Flemish Old Master.
This isn’t the first examination of the emotional response to art to have been undertaken in Italy. In 1989, Professor Graziella Magherini, a Florentine psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, made her name with the publication of The Stendhal Syndrome, addressing clinical instances of queasiness, disorientation, heightened sensitivity, and panic in people confronted by great works of art or architecture. Some skeptics have attributed the Stendhal Syndrome to fatigue in the age of mass tourism. But the basic difference between the Rubens Syndrome and its nobler forebear is simple—while Stendhal merely makes you swoon, Rubens makes you go out and act on your feelings."

-from a past issue of ARTnews

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