From Rodin to Reward Pathways: The Science of Art

November 14, 2014 3:31 AM

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The first time I saw Rodin's The Thinker I was nine, at the Museum of Western Art in Tokyo. It was a small, unassuming bronze cast in a room of eye-catching paintings, but there was something powerful about it. A sense that as we gallery visitors contemplated the thinker, he contemplated something beyond us. I've forgotten a lot of things about that trip, but I remember The Thinker, especially the way it pulled its viewers in and stopped them.

I say the first time, because I saw a much larger cast of The Thinker ten years later in Paris. It's a powerful feeling to come back to the same sculpture ten years later -- like coming back to your hometown after years of absence and change. For me, there's something about the work of certain famil...

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