The beholder's share

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A note for Lesson no. 4, "Your Brain Predicts (Almost) Everything You Do," in Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context from page 69–70 is:

The painter Marcel Duchamp once said that an artist does only 50 percent of the work in creating art. The remaining 50 percent is in the viewer’s brain. (Some artists and philosophers call the second half “the beholder’s share.”)

The appendix adds:

The later term beholder’s share was coined by art historian Ernst Gombrich.

The reference for this appendix entry is Duchamp (1973).[1]

For more on the idea of the beholder's share, see these references.[2][3]


  1. Duchamp, Marcel. 1973. “The Creative Act.” In Salt Seller: The Writings of Marcel Duchamp (Marchand du Sel), edited by Michel Sanouillet and Elmer Peterson, 139–140. New York: Oxford University Press. (The article was originally a talk by Duchamp, given at the Convention of the American Federation of Arts in Houston, Texas, in April, 1957.)
  2. Olin, Margaret. 1989. “Forms of Respect: Alois Riegl’s Concept of Attentiveness.” The Art Bulletin 71 (2): 285–299.
  3. Gombrich, Ernst H. 1960. Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation. New York: Pantheon.