Intelligence and Artistic Ability

Intelligence and Artistic Ability

she breaks. she caves.

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Posted Jun 9, 2007 - 1:31 AM:
Subject: Intelligence and Artistic Ability
From what I have noticed with many of the intellectual figureheads of the past and the present, the more intellectual or intelligent a person is, the higher artistic ability they possess.

For example, Leonardo da Vinci, an incredibly intelligent man in the areas of science, mathematics, engineering, invention and the human anatomy, to name but a few. This same man is equally as intelligent as an artist, painter, sculptor, architect, musician and writer.

There are many other examples of such intelligence throughout history, which I will not further go into here. However, this is also evident in the modern-day where you hear of the most brilliant musicians or artists who have studied law or medicine or psychology. Or the lawyers, doctors and psychologists who share an extensive interest and knowledge in music, art and philosophy.

I find it an interesting phenomenon of the human mind that such things are so. Knowing that intellectuality and intelligence stem from the left side of the brain, and artistic ability from the right, I rationalise this by the theory that each action has an equal and opposite reaction - applied to these circumstances, the more intensely involved the left side of the brain is intellectually, the right side of the brain balances this with equal artistic ability.

My notion is that the more analytical or critical a person is of life, the more that they need an artistic balance in order to allow them to escape from analysis for a while and indulge in some peace and serenity in art.

Any thoughts?

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Avatar ying
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Posted Jun 10, 2007 - 9:46 PM:

It has to do with forming loads of connections between neurons and strengthening neural networks. It also has to do with intelligence being an emergent property of the brain; when the brain is strengthened through usage, and when this usage is spread throughout the brain (phenomenological equivalent is being a polymath), the brain grows in it's entirety instead of it only growing in a specific region (phenomenological equivalent is specialising in certain things).
You could say that polymaths develop a stronger engine, so to speak, while specialisation only leads to partial enhancement.

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Posted Jun 10, 2007 - 10:05 PM:

It could be that there is something about the general genetics of the person and their brain that applies to increased "intelligence" in both areas. But I have studied very little anatomy and wouldn't know.

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Posted Jun 11, 2007 - 1:17 AM:

I don't know if it has anything to do with balance... I'm an artist (the traditional kind who doesn't do crazy stuff like Picasso or Mondrian), and when I'm drawing or sculpting or anything, though it's definitely stress-relieving, I don't get any escape from analysis. Creating an accurate representation of something else, whether it's a model or an idea in your mind, takes a lot of brain work. If you're drawing a person with charcoal, for example, you have to make sure all the proportions are correct by comparing one part of the body to another, both on your paper and on your model, and even between the two. You have to keep in mind how the light hits each part of the body so that it appears three-dimensional on your paper, and also how you will translate color into black and white, keeping the subtle blush on the lips noticeable while still realizing their form and position... To normal people, [this sort of] art isn't just about being able to capture an image pixel by pixel like a scanner or camera. Getting good at it isn't like some passive process that progresses as someone decides to "indulge in the peace and serenity of art." Though natural talent (whatever that is) and intelligence in other things does help develop artistic skills, people's brains do perform some work in the process.

But I was only talking about the technical sort of side of art... People like Piet Mondrian or Marcel Duchamp have been called "brilliant" more for artistic ideas than for artistic skill... And how about the savants who can draw representations of anything with the accuracy of a camera but incapable of producing these sort of ideas... would they still be "brilliant" artists in your book, esti?

The way you talk about art on the right side and intelligence on the left... it seems your perception of the research that might have suggested this is totally wrong. Intelligence isn't just about the left-side functions, which are (according to Wikipedia):
linear algorithmic processing, concrete-oriented, mathematics: perception of counting/measurement, present and past, language: grammar/words, pattern perception.

If that were the case, someone lacking in any of those skills would be considered unintelligent, even if they were great in the right-side areas:
holistical algorithmic processing, abstract-oriented, mathematics: perception of shapes/motions, present and future, language: intonation/emphasis, spatial perception.

If you believe in those lists, though, all the skills possessed by a good artist (whose skills you seem to think don't require what is traditionally considered intellectuality or intelligence) or a good mathematician aren't even almost perfectly split between the sides of the brain.

So, I really don't agree with your notion. I think the relation between artistic and academic skill stems from the fact that they both require some sort of--and even sometimes the same sort of--intelligence.

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Posted Jun 11, 2007 - 2:42 AM:

I don't think so - I know a lot of relatively stupid people who are brilliant artists, and even more intelligent people who can't draw for peanuts. I'm sure you could relate to this. The people you mentioned are partly famous for being strong in both areas.

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Posted Jun 12, 2007 - 9:43 PM:

To be a good artist you HAVE to be intelligent because creating art in any form requires a lot of thinking. Though I don't think that all intelligent people are good artist I do believe that all artist are intelligent people.

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Posted Jun 15, 2007 - 5:19 AM:

I've heard figures that up to 120IQ your creativity follows proportionally but after that there is no correlation. This fact seems somewhat tainted, but it's better than nothing I guess.

As for the whole intelligence is on the left side, I also care to disagree; most problems can be solved by use of either side and both, it just depends on how you think of the problem.. You can "feel" the problem, you can "see" the problem, you can "calculate" the problem etc.. Anyways, from what i've seen, stressing the difference between left and right is somewhat futile if taken too far.

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Posted Jun 27, 2007 - 3:14 PM:

Art doesn't always require a sharp wit or much thought (though it usually turns out crappy without any thought). I think maybe it's just that these famous artists had really healthy minds and went about art and learning the right way. And as for the artistic talent stemming from intelligence, maybe it's the other way around. Artists have open minds, or even a different kind of comprehension. Maybe artists don't get smart and smart people don't get artistic. Possibly, it's that type of comprehension that allows them to succeed in both areas. Then again, there are stupid artists and non-artistic geniuses. The world may never know.

Edited by Postmodern Beatnik on Jun 28, 2007 - 5:00 PM. Reason: capitalization, punctuation, spelling

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Posted Jul 30, 2007 - 5:16 PM:

I guess the answer is going to depend to a large degree on how you define intellegence. If you look at Gardener's idea of multiple intellegences it would probably be a lot more sympathetic to the idea of certain types of intellegence being related to and fundemental to creativity. However if you take a drier view of intellegence along the lines of something like 'abstract thinking ability' I imagine if you took a wide sample of IQ scores and artitic ability across a population there would be a very poor correlation between the two.
Yes some very intellegent individuals are good at art, but then so are some intellectually challenged individal, as kinoko points out about savants. In fact on the whole, from my experience of art school, I'd say that on average people of great artistic ability tend to generally be of average or less than average intellegence - their abilities simply lie in different directions than intellectual pursuit.

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Posted Jul 31, 2007 - 12:00 PM:

I think you are misunderstanding the term intelligence. As far as modern psychology is concerned, intelligence is just an abstract construct, the main functions of which are adaption and learning. Basically intelligence is the effieciency of our brains. So intelligence has been classified as a very general, and indeed very vague, definition of mental abilities. It was argued, it was Gardner who first raised the issue I believe, that intelligence should be further divided into various categories, such as spatial or emotional intelligence, so as to allow for more precise evaluation of one's brain's efficiency. I think what you refer to as intelligence is actually Logical-Mathematical intelligence in Gardner's, more precise, definition of intelligence. And if you meant "intelligence" in general, then as you can see, the term incorporates both artistic skills as logical skills, so its quite logical that someone who is generally intelligent, that is intelligent in many aspects, has both the logical and artistic predispositions.
I will agree, though, that there is a tendency that the best artists also exhibit high prowess in logical reasoning. It does, of course, depend on one's definition of a good artist. Personally, I think a lot of artists, a great majority actually, are complete imbeciles as far as logic is concerned. All they can do, at best, is paint nice, a skill that is entirely redundant as far as art is concerned. For art, as far as myself is concerned, is that which conveys intellectual values in a more intimate, convincing way. So when an artist makes a painting which merely, at most, moves us, but conveys no idea to the receiver, then it is as commonplace and dumb as going to a circus or having a cigarette. It does not deserve to be glorified as it often. There are, however, those artists who actually create something that can inspire, that can convey, in one picture, or one sculpture or whatnot, a whole plethora of revolutionary ideas. For instance, Van Gogh's"Starry Night" is so full of intellectual implications that it indeed deserves to be called art. So all in all, I wouldn't say that high logical intelligence must be directly proportional to artistic abilities. I think, however, that the combination of these DOES form a great artist, with that much I agree. That people of high logic find interest in great art is too simply natural. I wouldn't say that there is any correlation that you imply. The correlation is that between great artists and the combination of both those traits that you imply correlate with each other.

PS. Sorry for partly dubbing the previous post.

Edited by loui100 on Jul 31, 2007 - 12:06 PM
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