Embodied approaches to art history concerned with empathic projection can be reinforced by introducing empirical research that corroborates experiential observations about a spectator's bodily responses and by a more nuanced repertoire of bodily focused viewing. To reinforce existing scholarship, I examine a study exemplary in its analysis of embodied experience, Michael Fried's Menzel's Realism: Art and Embodiment in Nineteenth-Century Berlin (2002), proposing that the author's reported empathic experiences of Adolph Menzel's painting Rear Courtyard and House can be understood through concepts of sensorimotor imaging, hypnosis, and interoception. To expand the range and nuance of embodied responses, I first counterpoint Fried's two interpretations of the painting Balcony Window, offering a gendered reading and a taxonomy of three sensory modes of looking at art. Second, I shift to a micro level to explore how the spectator's breathing interacts with this painting and how these respiratory interactions create a mnemonic overlay that operates over time. Although these analyses focus on a nineteenth-century realist painting, the concepts and practices can be applied to diverse genres and media.
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Ellen J. Esrock; Embodying Art: The Spectator and the Inner Body. Poetics Today 1 June 2010; 31 (2): 217–250. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-2009-019
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