Inner Vision by Semir Zeki

The experience of looking at art has neurobiological correlates in the brain. Inner Vision: An Exploration of Art and the Brain describes these. Semir Zeki ( uses a range of examples from artists including Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Magritte, Malevich and Picasso. The book constitutes a kind of aesthetic tour of the brain.

Zeki offers a systematic attempt to explain visual art in terms of science. Without biological foundations, the author believes, theories of aesthetics cannot be complete, and certainly not profound. The chief casualty is the notion that we see art with a simple passive eye. Instead we’re persuaded there’s a dynamic, generative activity going on when we’re looking at anything, including art. Clear diagrams and beautiful colour plates are used to support the thesis. We’re shown that several aspects of the visual experience, above all colour,  do not inhere in natural phenomena but result from the brain’s interpretation of data.

If interested, follow the work of the Laboratory of Neurobiology at University College London here

Check if this fascinating study of visual and aesthetic experience is in stock at your local library by consulting the online catalogue at

240 pages in Oxford University Press

First published 1999

ISBN 9780198505198

Professor Semir Zeki

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