7. Artistic Genius and Creative Cognition

  1. Dean Keith Simonton
  1. Paul Thagard

Published Online: 30 MAY 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9781118367377.ch7

The Wiley Handbook of Genius

The Wiley Handbook of Genius

How to Cite

Thagard, P. (2014) Artistic Genius and Creative Cognition, in The Wiley Handbook of Genius (ed D. K. Simonton), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118367377.ch7

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 MAY 2014
  2. Published Print: 3 JUN 2014

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781118367407

Online ISBN: 9781118367377



  • art;
  • genius;
  • creativity;
  • cognition;
  • methods;
  • goals;
  • emotions;
  • association;
  • analogy


What are the mental processes that produce artistic imagination? This chapter considers the work of 14 artistic geniuses, drawn from the fields of painting, architecture, novels, poetry, philosophy, music, and dance. Artistic creativity often produces new methods as well as new things, events, and mental representations. Artistic creativity is goal directed. Artistic creativity of a high degree usually requires rejection of previous ideas and practices. Artistic creativity is emotional, with emotions functioning to provide motivation, focus, and evaluation. Artistic creativity requires the combination of mental representations into new ones. Artistic creativity is inspired by two primary cognitive processes: association and analogy. Artistic creativity requires chaining of small creative products into larger projects, where the whole itself is especially new and valuable. Artistic creativity is a social as well as a psychological process, because the productions of individual artists are facilitated by interactions with other people.