We assume to be able to feel emotions like sadness for the characters of a film, to be able to be scared of a monster displayed on the screen or even to smile optimistic listening to a happy song. And this ability is a possible reason why in a first place we are approaching Art as well.
The “good” art does not leave us indifferent.
It is undeniable that the response that art evokes is often emotional.
“Great art provides some of the most valuable experiences it is possible for us to have. Such experiences engage many aspects of our mental life simultaneously:filling our senses while at the same time making demands on our intelligence, our sympathies, and our emotions. These links give the experience of great art an importance and complexity that, for example, the experience of good food, however enjoyable, lacks.” (Matravers,1988)
This phenomenon of art made of, or that arises emotions is being for long discussed. Documenting all the discussion in the matter of art and feelings would require a book-length manuscript and even then be challenged on methodological areas. Even more distant would be the aim of proving once for all which kind of experiences of emotions are people living, during an engagement with art. All one can reasonably confirm it’s the possibility of the existence of this phenomena in different research fields, psychological and neuroscience or philosophical, and point out a common level where all agreed.
“In some cases it is clear that an expression of emotion in art is just as an expression of emotion in life. […] Artistic expressions are expressions primarily because they issue or at least seem to issue from somebody or other who is actually experiencing the emotion. The work provides evidence that the person is experiencing (or has experienced) the emotion.” (Robinson, 2007)
And how this is logically connected with Susanne Langer’s “forms of feelings” theory:
“Creative work always produces an actual excitement, which is coloured by the feeling to be projected, and is sometimes more massive than the intended import. It is, I believe, this intellectual excitement, the feeling of heightened sensibility and mental capacity which goes with acts of insight and intuitive judgment, that the artist feels as he works, and afterwards evokes in those people who appreciate his creation”.
In the Psychology field, S. Peloquin
“Art evokes a response that is deep and personal. Empathy is known for a response similar to that found in art. One who empathizes enters into an exchange that shapes understanding of another’s reality. Empathy calls for a receptivity to and active grasp of the situation and feelings of someone else. An empathic encounter is an interplay among a person who empathizes, a person who seeks understanding, and an event that prompts their connection. Like in art, the exchange of empathy moves back and forth from feeling to thought to action. When one person empathizes with another, the action is deep and personally responsive. The parallels between art and empathy are striking.”