A new study by the University of Liverpool (England) reveals that it may be possible to detect degenerative neurological diseases in artists through a fractal analysis of their paintings, what has been proven for example with Salvador Dalí.
The research “What paint can tell us: fractal analysis of neurological changes in seven artists” was carried out by a team of experts led by psychologist Alex Forsythe, and published in the American journal Neuropsychology.
The team examined 2,092 paintings painted by seven famous artists, including the Spanish Salvador Dalí and Pablo Ruiz Picasso, who in some cases experienced during their career various neurodegenerative disorders as well as other typical ailments of aging.
Of these seven artists analyzed, two had suffered from Parkinson’s – Salvador Dalí and Norval Morrisseau – two suffered from Alzheimer’s – James Brooks and Willem De Kooning – and the remaining three – Marcel Chagall, Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet – had no medical history with degenerative neurological diseases
According to the researchers, the brushstrokes of each painter were analyzed using a method known as fractal analysis in order to identify complex geometric patterns, which has also been used to determine the authenticity of some works of art.
The team of experts used that system to determine if the variations produced in the unique “fractals” of each artist were due to the aging or to a cognitive deterioration experienced by the painter.
The study showed clear patterns of variation in the fractal dimensions of the paintings, in which the works of artists who suffered a typical deterioration of the age of others attributed to neurological disorders were differentiated.
In the case of Dalí, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1980, when he was 76 years old, fractal analysis shows that something changed in his painting around 50 years.
“For a long time, psychologists have seen in art an effective method of improving the quality of life of people living with cognitive disorders,” said psychologist Alex Forsythe, who used fractal analysis to analyze the connections between the artist, brushing and painting.
This process “offers the potential to detect emerging neurological problems,” she added.
Expert was confident that this new study “will open new directions in research that will help diagnose neurological diseases in their early stages.”
London, December 30, 2016, EFE/Practica Español