Art for health.

PhysOrg brightens up the future of health care with the healing power of art:

Nanda, who has a doctorate in architecture with a specialization in health-care systems and design, says scientific studies show that art can aid in the recovery of patients, shorten hospital stays and help manage pain. But she says it has to be the right art — vivid paintings of landscapes, friendly faces and familiar objects can lower blood pressure and heart rate, while abstract pictures can have the opposite effect.

Nanda and two university professors did a study at Houston’s St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital using two types of art. In the first group were images that had been proven to calm patients, including green landscapes, water scenes, cultural artifacts and emotionally expressive pictures of people. The second group contained abstract pieces by artists such as Vincent van Gogh. When asked which they preferred, most patients chose images from the first group.

Nanda says one theory is that abstract art allows patients to project their own anxieties onto the image.