Every image embodies a way of seeing

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every image embodies a way of seeing

Ways of Seeing by John Berger

John Berger’s Classic Text on Art
John Bergers Ways of Seeing is one of the most stimulating and the most influential books on art in any language. First published in 1972, it was based on the BBC television series about which the (London) Sunday Times critic commented: This is an eye-opener in more ways than one: by concentrating on how we look at paintings . . . he will almost certainly change the way you look at pictures. By now he has.


Berger has the ability to cut right through the mystification of the professional art critics . . . He is a liberator of images: and once we have allowed the paintings to work on us directly, we are in a much better position to make a meaningful evaluation —Peter Fuller, Arts Review


The influence of the series and the book . . . was enormous . . . It opened up for general attention to areas of cultural study that are now commonplace —Geoff Dyer in Ways of Telling


Winner of the 1972 Booker Prize for his novel, G., John Peter Berger (born November 5th, 1926) is an art critic, painter and author of many novels including A Painter of Our Time, From A to X and Bento’s Sketchbook.
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Ways of Seeing Summary and Analysis of Chapter 1

We think you have liked this presentation. If you wish to download it, please recommend it to your friends in any social system. Share buttons are a little bit lower. Thank you! Published by Roy Elliott Modified over 4 years ago. In other words, looking is inherently ideological; it has its own discursive and codes. Indeed, the camera frequently enables us to look at people whom we would never otherwise see at all.

In Way's of Seeing, John Berger argues that original art wields uniqueness unachievable in any other form. He states, "No other kind of relic or text from the past can offer such a direct testimony about the world which surrounded other people at other times. In this respect images are more precise and richer than literature" Berger's outlook upon art, which was shaped by years of schooling, teaching, and personal experience as both an artist and a critic, clashes with his Marxist desires for an equal society. Berger believes that "When we are prevented from seeing [art], we are being deprived of the history which belongs to us," thus exhibiting his Marxist ideas that everyone should be able to experience art. Knowledge of history is not merely knowing events of the past, but it is an understanding of the outlook people had of their surrounding world.

When we inhabit the world, we are constantly seeing. Perception is an ongoing reality—we are always taking in the world, and only after the fact do we name it. Thus begins Ways of Seeing , drawing our attention to the fraught relationship between vision, images, words, and meaning.
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Any one of us has to be able to see something before describing it in words. We cannot describe any object unless we have seen it, or an image of it. It is not only our ability to select what we see in and of an object, but what our knowledge, background, education and upbringing has contributed to our understanding of such an object. For instance, a gardening tool shown to an infant will have no meaning or recognition as to purpose when that infant has not seen anyone using such an implement. That infant would not be able to describe a fork or hoe without prior knowledge of such an object, its shape, use, environment etc. Each person seeing that image will see it differently, particularly in reference to detail and meaning. In the field of general amateur photography, images are usually made for personal use and enjoyment, with no thought to a variety of interpretations.

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