Beyond the dichotomy of figurative and abstract art in hospitals: The potential of visual art as a generator of well-being

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Abstract

Within the evidence-based design discourse, and deriving particularly from the theory of emotional congruence, abstract art has been indicated as unsuitable for hospitals. As patients may often experience unfamiliarity, vulnerability, stress, unpredictability and uneasiness in hospitals, these negative factors in terms of patients’ well-being are predicted to be detrimentally reinforced by abstract art, but alleviated by particular forms of figurative art. The present paper focuses particularly on this question of the suitability of abstract art in Danish hospital settings and presents findings from two experimental case studies on 98 patients’ well-being in relation to their experience and use of visual art during hospitalization.
The case studies employed a mixed-method approach, including interviews and observations informed by thermal video recording, surveys and psychophysiological experiments.
Six experiential domains are employed to understand the notion of experience of ‘well-being’: Space, Time, Inter-subjectivity, Body, Mood and Personal identity.
The hypothesis that the ambiguity of abstract art leads to stressful effects is not confirmed by the study’s findings. The studies are developed to qualify current guidelines for the application of art, which emphasize a dichotomy between figurative and abstract art. While confirming the positive effects of figurative art, the studies indicate that the ambiguity of meaning in abstract compositions can also facilitate patients’ memories, thoughts and feelings, addressed as experiential domains of well-being.
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Within the evidence-based design discourse, and deriving particularly from the theory of emotional congruence, abstract art has been indicated as unsuitable for hospitals. As patients may often experience unfamiliarity, vulnerability, stress, unpredictability and uneasiness in hospitals, these negative factors in terms of patients’ well-being are predicted to be detrimentally reinforced by abstract art, but alleviated by particular forms of figurative art. The present paper focuses particularly on this question of the suitability of abstract art in Danish hospital settings and presents findings from two experimental case studies on 98 patients’ well-being in relation to their experience and use of visual art during hospitalization.
The case studies employed a mixed-method approach, including interviews and observations informed by thermal video recording, surveys and psychophysiological experiments.
Six experiential domains are employed to understand the notion of experience of ‘well-being’: Space, Time, Inter-subjectivity, Body, Mood and Personal identity.
The hypothesis that the ambiguity of abstract art leads to stressful effects is not confirmed by the study’s findings. The studies are developed to qualify current guidelines for the application of art, which emphasize a dichotomy between figurative and abstract art. While confirming the positive effects of figurative art, the studies indicate that the ambiguity of meaning in abstract compositions can also facilitate patients’ memories, thoughts and feelings, addressed as experiential domains of well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationARCH17 : The 3rd International Conference on Architecture, Research, Care and Health
EditorsNanet Mathiasen, Anne Kathrine Frandsen
Number of pages15
Volume1
Place of PublicationKøbenhavn
PublisherPolyteknisk Boghandel og Forlag
Publication dateApr 2017
Edition1
Pages105
Chapter120
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-93585-00-3
StatePublished - Apr 2017
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes
EventARCH17 - The 3rd International Conference on Architecture, Research, Care and Health -
Duration: 26 Apr 201727 Apr 2017

Conference

ConferenceARCH17 - The 3rd International Conference on Architecture, Research, Care and Health
Periode26/04/201727/04/2017

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