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Book Report

March 24, 2016 | Author: | Posted in political science, social sciences

Running head : John Berger ‘s Ways of Seeing

John Berger ‘s Ways of Seeing

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John Berger ‘s Ways of Seeing

Ways of Seeing ‘ signify Berger ‘s most significant contributions to the literature of art . By enlightening a style that depended upon an aphoristic mode of expression , Berger could within a small space say , or at least entail , a great deal . Sentences pared down to essentials permitted for extraordinary articulacy . Thus far lucidity sometimes came at a price [banner_entry_middle]

, since Berger ‘s arguments rested on simplifications that did not always stand up to scrutiny . Berger ‘s criticism alternated between influential general statements regarding art and history and close analyses of individual artists . Conceivably for the reason that he was trained as a painter , Berger could , as few other critics , call to mind the appearance of a work of art or the way an artist works . This made for an often unsettling combination of extensive historical arguments followed with polemical intensity and subtle aesthetic insights

Berger wrote as a critic who understood the historical dimension of art-a dimension critics and art historians during the 1950s and 1960s often intentionally ignored or repressed . Where they turned the history of art into redemptive fictions of cultural victory , Berger identified the often painful historical circumstances under which art was produced and seen . While not an art historian , he often employed historical generalizations to good effect . Merely by indicating circumstances overlooked or intentionally neglected by critics and art historians-the way Dutch capitalism circumscribed Frans Hals ‘s career , for example , or how an all-encompassing philosophy of technological progress formed a necessary precondition for Cubism-Berger could build up insights unavailable to other

In a sense , Cubism of the period 1907-14 turned out to be Berger ‘s model for all visual imagery . In ‘Understanding a Photograph (1968 Berger proclaimed that ‘every photograph is in fact a means of testing confirming and constructing a These arguments lay the foundation for Ways of Seeing . Originally a series of programmes produced for BBC television , Berger and his collaborators conceived of Ways of Seeing as a critical reply to Kenneth Clark ‘s complacent TV series Civilization (1969 . The book Ways of Seeing , which consisted of 4 essays combining text and images and 3 using images only , rapidly turned out to be a classic

Ways of Seeing ‘ can be read as a comprehensive critique of both the European convention of oil painting and the way that tradition has been used in modern-day society . Walter Benjamin examined how mechanical reproduction customized the status of art , how it stripped art of its conventional ‘aura ‘ and therefore its traditional authority . In the first essay in Ways of Seeing , Berger draws upon Benjamin ‘s analysis to question the continuing use of art ‘to glorify the present social system and its priorities . Mechanical reproduction particularly cheap color printing-makes images ubiquitous . What is now available is a ‘new language of images . Berger argued that this innovative language… [banner_entry_footer]

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