Art on Prescription

Art and music therapy for the treatment of a range of disorders are now well established in Europe. Yet since 1st November the Canadian city of Montreal has gone one step further: in association with the city’s Museum of Fine Arts, doctors can now write their patients a prescription for a visit to the museum. The next visit to a museum – prescribed by your own doctor. How wonderful! 

I was pleased to read this news because one thing is very clear to me – art is good for us! Art has a beneficial soothing effect than can be balm for the soul. To be moved by art is something very special. If we are to believe the latest research, our Stone Age ancestors were also fascinated by the magic effects art can produce – whether in the sounds and rhythms of early music or paintings on the walls of caves.

And it’s the same with me today: whenever I hear particular pieces of music or get the opportunity to see certain paintings in the original, such as van Gogh´s “Church at Auvers” or Manet´s “Olympia” in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Even when I can’t explain it, looking at these pictures has a very deep effect on me which produces a feeling of real happiness. 

Feelings of happiness

Now you might find this strange or a bit over the top? Perhaps because you’ve never had such a reaction standing in front of a painting. But just think of a piece of music you love. A ballad makes us sad, an aria awakens longing in us, the right rhythm makes us want to dance and sing, liberates the soul.

Music makes us cry, makes us laugh, makes us freak out, makes us thoughtful. On YouTube you can find countless numbers of videos of babies who can’t yet walk but are still wiggling around excitedly in their diapers in blissful response to music. Art awakens something that lies very deep inside us.

A species of art lovers

Even very small babies can often react quite ecstatically when shown bright and colourful paintings. This is what I have found with OUBEYs paintings. The babies thrash around and squeak in an excess of pure joy and enthusiasm at the view of certain pictures. It was truly wonderful to see! This in itself would be proof enough for me that art is not merely an intellectual game but has a great deal to do with our energies and feelings as a species – and has been so ever since our species first existed. 

Art is simply good for us. Art is vital for our well-being and our soul. Art awakens emotions that would otherwise remain hidden in our day-to-day lives. At this juncture OUBEY would probably play Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique symphony; for my part I would prefer his piano concerto No. 1 in B minor. But as I’m now thinking of Brian Wilson´s album “Imagination”, I shall now put that on and listen to it once more. Good art is never boring. You can look at it and listen to it again and again, and again and again it never fails in its magical effects. Marvellous effects that I wish every person in this world to have – even on prescription.