Falling in love at the museum
Summer, desire for sea, sun, relax and for who can - often for who couldn’t too - for new lovers. Don’t you know how to find them? Try with an invitation to a museum. Word of Semir Zeki, Professor of Neurophysiology at the London University college and founder of the institute of neuroaesthetics at the University of California in Berkeley. A group of volunteers was asked to observe 28 paintings including Monet’s Bathers at La Grenouillière and Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral. The results? An amazing metamorphosis: all men and women partaking in the experiment changed their status from simple test subjects to being totally smitten. The brain-mapping techniques used to monitor their brains throughout the experiment showed that the orbitofrontal cortex activated the production of an amount of dopamine equal to the one secreted in love. But there is more to it than that. Blood flow, too, reached areas of the brain that are generally involved when we fall in love. Just like when we see the object of our love. But with some difference. Whereas love at first sight seldom occurs between human beings - we are too tyrannized by self-censure, reason and education - when it comes to falling in love with a work of art, people are more uninhibited and receptive, and attraction is immediate. We only need to look at a masterpiece, and our brain reacts instantly. According to the numbers, overwhelming, uncontrollable fascination, intense pleasure and ecstatic states of well- being comparable to those of the orgasm are guaranteed. In such a moment, the step from infatuation with the painting to infatuation with the person standing next to us is short. Galeotto was the painting and he who painted it. Do you want to seduce someone? Physicus dixit. Meet him or her at the museum. You could also kit yourself out with a sort of artistic Kamasutra and advance by degrees, like true gentlemen and gentlewomen. For example, you could start with Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus for a quick kiss. Ruben’s Adam and Eve would be good to move on and touch her breast lightly. Velázquez’s The Rokeby Venus or Goya’s Maja desnuda work well to stir fantasy and push imagination towards gently erotic intercourse. And if you do not like mawkishness and want to go straight to the point, Courbet’s L’Origine du monde and Picasso’s erotic engravings are for you. Anything to add? Nothing, just go, look and breed.