Ways of Seeing
John Berger’s Classic Text on ArtJohn Berger's 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 TellingWinner 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.

Ways of Seeing Details

TitleWays of Seeing
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 18th, 1990
PublisherPenguin
ISBN-139780140135152
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Art, Philosophy, Writing, Essays, Art History, Photography

Ways of Seeing Review

  • Austin Kleon
    January 1, 1970
    My map of the book:
  • Trevor
    January 1, 1970
    This book is based on a television series which can be viewed on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnfB-p...This is a really remarkable series and a remarkable, although annoying, book. The book is annoying because it should have been a coffee table book with large colour photographs and large font – instead it is a Penguin paperback with a font tending towards the unreadable and grey scale reproductions of the paintings that make them almost impossible to view. This is agonising, as This book is based on a television series which can be viewed on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnfB-p...This is a really remarkable series and a remarkable, although annoying, book. The book is annoying because it should have been a coffee table book with large colour photographs and large font – instead it is a Penguin paperback with a font tending towards the unreadable and grey scale reproductions of the paintings that make them almost impossible to view. This is agonising, as really all you will want to do is studying and think about these images for hours. There is something we sort of know, even if I suspect we are completely wrong in our intuition. We have been, as humans, looking at pictures for a lot longer than we have been reading books. For the vast majority of us, literacy is a disturbingly recent invention – perhaps a hundred , maybe a hundred and fifty years for people in the first world. Churches told their Biblical stories as much in images as in words. For a long time even here the words were spoken in a language that was not understood by those listening. Learning how to read images, something so many of us assume isn’t something we need to learn, but rather is somehow immediate, takes an entire culture and also takes perhaps as long as to learn how to read. To understand how images work on us – how we are manipulated by them – that takes at least as long as it takes to learn the same things about how words work on and manipulate us.So, on one level this book is an exploration of the history of oil painting and what such paintings ‘mean’ – mean to us now in comparison to what they meant to earlier generations of people in Western societies. Because the Western tradition of painting is quite a separate thing from any other ‘world art’ traditions. He starts by saying that paintings are both still and silent. This is an interesting thing to say, because how we generally experience paintings today – or at least, learn about them – is through shows like Sister Wendy’s World Tour of Art or Simon Schama’s Power of Art. Don’t for a second get me wrong here – I loved both. But the art works displayed are anything but still or silent. There is a voice track and there is a panning and a zooming-in that turns these still and silent works into something approaching a cartoon. I had never considered the implications of this before. The painting stops being what it is, in fact, cannot remain what it is on the screen, it stops being an object that the artist created so as to speak for itself, and now requires someone to mediate between it and us, to either speak over it (explain it) or to orchestrate it (quite literally, with music) so that we are taught the proper way to read this painting.I’ve been thinking a lot about how we ‘read’ paintings and images, particularly after reading a book called Reading Images: the grammar of visual design. It is interesting that in that book it is clear that linguistic grammar has been used as a way to structure our response to the grammar of images – quite effectively, I think – but this is almost counter-intuitive. If we have had a more immediate relationship with images than with written text, why is it that we need to use the organising principles associated with written texts so as to seek to understand images? Why doesn’t that work the other way around? I know in part this is because language has been formally codified, but this, again, raises the question of why images are so resistant to such codification. Why would it be daft to explain what a verb is by reference to Mona Lisa’s eyebrows?The relationship between being naked (being without clothes) and being nude is presented here in what I take to be feminist art criticism. A nude is not merely someone without clothes – it is almost invariably a female and she is also on display, an object. In many ways she is not really the protagonist of the painting, even when she is the only person in the painting – the other person that is always present is the anonymous male viewer towards whom she is on display. He shows image after image of nude women, and even while being embraced, they are turned to the viewer, turned to their true lover, their fantasy lover, for not only are they the screen on which we project our lust, but also the reason for our weaknesses – they are, in the end, to be lusted over and to blame. No wonder they are invariably passive and languid. After corrupting the whole of male humanity, how could they not look exhausted?And that is actually the point – it is only today that a painting can be seen by quite so many people. They were never intended to be seen other than by the very few. Today paintings are pretty much what Plato said of them, representations of representations – but as such they are a demonstration of just how wealthy the owner really was. Paintings put on display the wealth of their owners – and that was a large part of what had been their purpose. Here’s me, and here’s the missus, and we are standing in front of our house, this is our bedroom, these are the oranges we have shipped in from Spain, this is our cow and, despite the late summer sun setting, these are our furs. The last program in the series looks at advertising and how it uses and distorts the language of paintings, to which it is the last dying breathe of a tradition spanning back 500 years. In oil painting we are looking at the current wealth of the owners – there is a now-ness about these paintings – this is what I look like now, this is what I own now – the fact that it is always ‘then’ in images is something everyone has become more aware of now we have cameras and something Barthes explains beautifully in his Camera Lucida. Time stops in the image, and as such all images are images of death. Life immediately marches away from them, leaving them as pure memory. So, paintings are always about the present and, as such, thus also immediately about the past – the present being just the past in waiting.But marketing images are always about the future, never about the present. Selling something is about creating a desire and that desire is not here and now, it is sometime soon. In many ways advertising doesn’t sell products – it sells envy and desire. As he points out, the rich people in oil paintings are not glamorous – glamour is beside the point. To be glamorous the viewer needs to want to emulate the people they see in the images – but the people who own paintings see themselves – so, there is no need for glamour. To sell product you need to sell a fantasy and that fantasy needs to be just out of reach, but obtainable though an exchange not actually part of the image, an exchange of money for a good, but that exchange is the point of the image. That capitalism needs such constant exchanges and that advertising creates the desires that fuel these exchanges is the open secret of our society. That said, I’d never considered the relationship with time that this creates before – how, to be economically valid units, we need to be constantly living in a fantasy future, while also being prepared to put up with just about any boredom in our all too prosaic present. No wonder advertisement is uninterested in now, it needs to be – it needs to negate now for what is to come. The book also draws a distinction between how we advertise to the working class (the promised transformation is based on Cinderella) and the middle class (the promised transformation is based on The Enchanted Palace) – for the working class buying this one product will be enough to transform you into the princess, for the middleclass investing in this bank will bring you all of the good things in life, which are, of necessity, an ensemble.There is so much to think about in this tiny book and this short series of films. I watch shows like this and I think, imagine what television could have been – but, of course, it could never have been anything of the kind. This is very much the exception that proves the rule. So, to see what television could never have been allowed to be, watch this and then go back to reading books.
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  • Pierce
    January 1, 1970
    First of all, this entire book is set in bold. I don't know what crazy crazyman let that through the gate at Penguin but I just felt I had to point it out right away. It's still worth reading.4 essays and 3 pictorial essays. Really interesting stuff cutting away some of the bullshit associated with our appreciation of art. It seems like museums are doing a lot of things wrong as well as right.Chapter on oil-painting was particularly interesting but it was the last one about advertising (or "publ First of all, this entire book is set in bold. I don't know what crazy crazyman let that through the gate at Penguin but I just felt I had to point it out right away. It's still worth reading.4 essays and 3 pictorial essays. Really interesting stuff cutting away some of the bullshit associated with our appreciation of art. It seems like museums are doing a lot of things wrong as well as right.Chapter on oil-painting was particularly interesting but it was the last one about advertising (or "publicity" as it's exclusively referred to in this book) that has me thinking. Advertising not only needs you to want this shirt, this car, the entire industry must endeavor to narrow the scope of your desires to make you amenable to the culture. The mindset must always be a future, better you achieved through important purchases. The essay is horrifying enough until you realise that it's thirty years old, and this is now only one facet of a business that's grown much more insidious. The ads shown are almost quaint in their straight sell.
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  • Justin Evans
    January 1, 1970
    I am not the audience for this book, mainly because I've already read and more or less digested the handful of essays and ideas on which it is based. The seven chapters break down fairly simply. 1: Benjamin's 'Work of Art'--the ability to reproduce images alters the way we encounter works of art. This seems reasonable. Nobody gets to see a Giotto without having seen a reproduction first, except someone who has no interest in the Giotto in the first place. But Berger et al* go a step further: we I am not the audience for this book, mainly because I've already read and more or less digested the handful of essays and ideas on which it is based. The seven chapters break down fairly simply. 1: Benjamin's 'Work of Art'--the ability to reproduce images alters the way we encounter works of art. This seems reasonable. Nobody gets to see a Giotto without having seen a reproduction first, except someone who has no interest in the Giotto in the first place. But Berger et al* go a step further: we need to use the fact that we encounter works of art differently to undermine the ruling class's privilege and the "specialized experts who are the clerks of the nostalgia of a ruling class in decline." That's on page 32. Part of me, a large part, laments the fact that you'd never get that published today, not even on a website. Another part of me laments the stupidity of intellectuals who put their faith in the inherent goodness of The People. The People does not have a good track record when it comes to art appreciation. That's not to say that people can't learn to appreciate art, only that We are no better and no worse than the ruling class was. We need to learn, we need to be taught, you can't do that if you assume that We are inherently able to do the right thing. 2 & 3: Women are depicted differently from men, and, frankly, not in ways that are healthy for anyone, but particularly not for women. I agree. Which makes it breathtaking to see the authors get so many things wrong, either intentionally (cutting short the bible verse in which God punishes Eve *and Adam*); stupidly (non-Western art forms show women as active participants in sex, so that are isn't morally dubious); or in ways that are, ahem, temporally bound ("Hair is associated with sexual power, with passion." Seventies!). 5: Oil paintings are bourgeois and generally not morally okay. Holbein's 'Ambassadors' is read as an example of this; the incredible distorted skull in the painting is the exception which proves the rule of oil paintings rather than, you know, showing that oil paintings can be self-critical, as are most good artworks of any kind. In general, the lesson of this book is that all art is bad for you, except the pieces that the authors of this book like. They like pieces by artists who can plausibly be turned into radicals, because only radicals can be interesting (Franz Hals; William Blake). They don't discuss the 20th century at all (I know they know that twentieth century art exists; perhaps, as good Benjaminian Marxists, they don't like abstraction or difficulty). They're also very uncomfortable with religious art, and want to group, e.g., Ambrosius Benson's Mary Magdalene with the absurd and/or pornographic Magdalene of later times, rather than admitting the rather obvious differences (Benson's is rich, but not, how can I put this... naked and disheveled.) Since the authors have a hard time saying what they actually like (vs. what they suspect is oppressive), you get idiocies like this: Rembrandt's famous late portrait shows a man for whom "all has gone except a sense of the question of existence, of existence as a question." A little thought would show that this is the sort of conservative pablum Great Artists have been serving up for generations. 6 & 7: Advertizing uses art to make you think you want things you don't want and that you can get them, so you don't need to think about what you really want, e.g., more time away from the office. This is true. In sum: I was sucked in by the idea that this was a book about understanding art. It is not. It is critical theory for high-school readers. Good for what it is, but extremely narrow in scope, and quite harmful for anyone who swallows it whole rather than taking a few minutes to worry away at its assumptions. Harmful because those who accept it will say silly things, and because those who read it and reject it out of hand (due to the rhetoric, bad arguments, or conceptual confusion) won't be challenged to, you know, care about other people. * Humorous aspect of this book: it makes a big deal about how it was written by a group of people, because, you know, individuals are bad, and groups are good. You'll note that the book is sold as a book by John Berger. You can draw the conclusion.
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  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    January 1, 1970
    Way of Seeing, John Berger عنوان: شیوه های نگریستن؛ شیوه های دیدن؛ شیوه های نگاه؛ نویسنده: جان برگر (جان برجر)؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: از ششم فوریه تا دوم مارس سال 2013 میلادیعنوان: شیوه های نگریستن؛ نویسنده: جان برگر (جان برجر)؛ مترجم: غلامحسین فتح الله نوری؛ تهران، ویژه نگار، 1388؛ در 77 ص، مصور، شابک: 9789649461748؛ موضوع: ادراک بصری، فن، هنر، از نویسندگان قرن 20 معنوان: شیوه های نگاه؛ نویسنده: جان برگر (جان برجر)؛ مترجم: محمد هوشمند ویژه؛ تهران، بهجت، 1390؛ در 160 ص، مصور، رنگی؛ شابک: 978964276 Way of Seeing, John Berger عنوان: شیوه های نگریستن؛ شیوه های دیدن؛ شیوه های نگاه؛ نویسنده: جان برگر (جان برجر)؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: از ششم فوریه تا دوم مارس سال 2013 میلادیعنوان: شیوه های نگریستن؛ نویسنده: جان برگر (جان برجر)؛ مترجم: غلامحسین فتح الله نوری؛ تهران، ویژه نگار، 1388؛ در 77 ص، مصور، شابک: 9789649461748؛ موضوع: ادراک بصری، فن، هنر، از نویسندگان قرن 20 معنوان: شیوه های نگاه؛ نویسنده: جان برگر (جان برجر)؛ مترجم: محمد هوشمند ویژه؛ تهران، بهجت، 1390؛ در 160 ص، مصور، رنگی؛ شابک: 9789642763528؛ عنوان: شیوه های دیدن؛ نویسنده: جان برگر (جان برجر)؛ مترجم: زیبا مغربی؛ تهران، شورآفرین، 1393؛ در 122 ص، مصور، رنگی؛ شابک: 9786006955278؛ جان برگر در «راه‌های دیدن» می‌گوید: «مردان به زنان می‌نگرند و زنان به خود نگاه می‌کنند که مورد تماشا قرار گرفته‌ اند. این روزها، دیگر برای دوربین‌ها آسان نیست که زنان را فقط به صورت ابزاری جنسی به نمایش بگذارند زیرا زنان کارگردان و بازیگر، از نقش‌های خود برای عرضه‌ ی هوش و قدرت آرمانی‌شان بهره می‌گیرند. زنان آمریکایی تلاش فراوانی کرده‌ اند تا دنیایی از آن خود بسازند، دنیایی که در آن اصل نگاه مردانه نمی‌تواند از وجود آنها، هویت جنسی‌شان را به نمایش بگذارد، بلکه مجبور خواهد بود آنها را زنانی با استعداد و باهوش به تصویر بکشد» ا. شربیانی
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  • Riku Sayuj
    January 1, 1970
    If you are really impatient, you may go and see Trevor's brilliant review for this book. Otherwise you may wait a few weeks for mine - I don't think it would be fair to review the book without seeing the documentary.
  • Stephen
    January 1, 1970
    2007 wrote: This book, based on a television series, explores how the art world of now has come to be by exploring what art was to humans in the past. The theories presented are very interesting and are posed with pictorial references that do very well to prove points. One interesting chapter deals exclusively with the 'Nude' in art overtime. Overtime it has been reviled, reveared, copied, censored, hidden, hoarded and abstracted. Another great chapter deals in the context in which people see ar 2007 wrote: This book, based on a television series, explores how the art world of now has come to be by exploring what art was to humans in the past. The theories presented are very interesting and are posed with pictorial references that do very well to prove points. One interesting chapter deals exclusively with the 'Nude' in art overtime. Overtime it has been reviled, reveared, copied, censored, hidden, hoarded and abstracted. Another great chapter deals in the context in which people see art, in contrast to how they might have been meant to see it by the artist. Many pieces are painted as singular wall decorations, but now are hanging in museums next to a hundred other of these decorations. Overtime people now view art online or in sections of video, where a director controls the viewers eyes as what to see through camera tricks and narration. The chapter contemplates and guesses how this might change to experience of art over time. Changing from entertainment, to a more scholarly subject. A very interesting read.
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  • Deborah Palmer
    January 1, 1970
    This book though initially written in 1972 is still relevant to the reader today especially the essays dealing with the way women are seen in society. It is composed of seven essys, four use words and images, three only images. It discusses how women are view in society with an emphasis and concentration on European or Western culture. The images are from ads and famous European paintings. Being that I work in a museum and see paintings all day long this aspect interests me in particular.Basical This book though initially written in 1972 is still relevant to the reader today especially the essays dealing with the way women are seen in society. It is composed of seven essys, four use words and images, three only images. It discusses how women are view in society with an emphasis and concentration on European or Western culture. The images are from ads and famous European paintings. Being that I work in a museum and see paintings all day long this aspect interests me in particular.Basically the book is saying that in our European based culture women are objects, men are subjects. Men survey, women are surveyed. Since women are always on display in our society, they adjust their behaviour in order to please and fit in with our male dominated society.I reference this book many times in my own personal writings. What Mr. Berger has written still has value today. Actually in many ways not much has changed for women. We in the USA and Western Europe are a little better off because we can work, make money and have legal rights but that is not true for women in the rest of the world. Living in a Democratic or secular society does give women more control over their lives as opposed to dictatorships and theocracies. However even in the United States our actions as women and men are based on social constructs and society's defintions of how men and women should behave towards each other. Even how women view and interact with each other to the point that women are very competitive, jealous and vindictive in order to get or keep a man. But that is another story for discussion in the essays I have written.
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  • Malihe bayat
    January 1, 1970
    کسی که این کتاب رو بهم هدیه داد در موردش گفت که "این کتاب با تمام کم حجم و کوتاه بودنش یکی از بهترین کتاباییه که خوندم" منم در موردش همین رو میتونم بگم. کتاب شرح رک و پوست کنده ای از تصاویر به خصوص نقاشی های رنگ و روغن دوران رنسانس و ردپای سرمایه داری و قدرت طلبی (فصل ۲) و تبلیغات و تاثیرات اونها و روشی که برای جلب ببیننده استفاده میکننه(فصل ۳). از صراحت جان برجر لذت بردم. من تقریبا هر فصل رو چهار بار خوندم چون میخوام مدام یادم باشه وقتی در برابر تصویری قرار گرفتم این شیوه از نگریستن هم مد نظر د کسی که این کتاب رو بهم هدیه داد در موردش گفت که "این کتاب با تمام کم حجم و کوتاه بودنش یکی از بهترین کتاباییه که خوندم" منم در موردش همین رو میتونم بگم. کتاب شرح رک و پوست کنده ای از تصاویر به خصوص نقاشی های رنگ و روغن دوران رنسانس و ردپای سرمایه داری و قدرت طلبی (فصل ۲) و تبلیغات و تاثیرات اونها و روشی که برای جلب ببیننده استفاده میکننه(فصل ۳). از صراحت جان برجر لذت بردم. من تقریبا هر فصل رو چهار بار خوندم چون میخوام مدام یادم باشه وقتی در برابر تصویری قرار گرفتم این شیوه از نگریستن هم مد نظر داشته باشم. خیلی خیلی توصیه میکنم. خصوصا به افرادی که با هنر در ارتباطن‌‌.
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  • Taha
    January 1, 1970
    Bu kitap John Berger'in BBC'de yayımlanmış belgeselinin yazılı hali.(Tam olarak değil.) Kitapta resimler üzerinden hayatın birçok noktasına değiniliyor. Kültürümüzde tablolara karşı pek ilgi olmadığından genelde herkes yüzeysel bakar. (Ben de) Hatta birçok dizide bunun parodisi yapılmıştır. Bu kitap sayesinden eski dönem tablolarına bakışım daha da değişti. Resimlerin derinlerinde yatan ne çok anlam varmış meğersem. Dedektif gibi resimler üzerinden çıkarımlar, bu çıkarımlar üzerinden o dönemin s Bu kitap John Berger'in BBC'de yayımlanmış belgeselinin yazılı hali.(Tam olarak değil.) Kitapta resimler üzerinden hayatın birçok noktasına değiniliyor. Kültürümüzde tablolara karşı pek ilgi olmadığından genelde herkes yüzeysel bakar. (Ben de) Hatta birçok dizide bunun parodisi yapılmıştır. Bu kitap sayesinden eski dönem tablolarına bakışım daha da değişti. Resimlerin derinlerinde yatan ne çok anlam varmış meğersem. Dedektif gibi resimler üzerinden çıkarımlar, bu çıkarımlar üzerinden o dönemin sosyal yaşantısının izlerini bulup betimlenmesi çok enteresan. Kitapta en çok hoşuma giden kısımlar ise kadın erkek ilişkisi ve reklamlar üzerine olan bölümler. "Erkekler davrandıkları gibi, kadınlarsa göründükleri gibidirler. Erkekler kadınları seyrederler. Kadınlarsa seyredilişlerini seyrederler. Bu durum, yalnız erkeklerle kadınlar arasındaki ilişkileri değil, kadınların kendileriyle ilişkilerini de belirler. Kadının içindeki gözlemci erkek, gözlenense kadındır. Böylece kadın kendisini bir nesneye – özellikle görsel bir nesneye? seyirlik bir şeye dönüştürmüş olur." Bu tespite katılmamak elde değil. Günümüzde de hala kadınlar görsel meta olarak kullanılıyor. Reklamlara, diziler vb. tv ürünleri bakınca daha iyi anlaşılıyor. Yazıda seyrediliyor dese de onun adı gözle taciz oluyor . İşin tuhaf tarafı bu tacizden hoşlanan kadınlar da var. ( Her geçen gün çoğalıyor) "Bütün reklamlar huzursuzluk duygusunu işler. Her şey paraya dayanır; parayı ele geçirmek huzursuzluğu yenmek demektir." En basit örnek ; yeni çıkacak bir telefon modeli için millet şimdiden sipariş verdi. Sipariş verenlerin bir çoğu önceki modeline sahip. Elde etmenin dayanılmaz hafifliği. Kısa anlık o elde etmenin tatmin olma hissini yaşayıp kendini o zengin gruptan görmek ( İphone telefonu olan zengindir imajı ) için saatlerini heba ediyorlar. ( Asgari ücretli 47 gün çalışması gerekiyor.) İşte bu ortamın oluşması için reklamcılar bireysel olarak yaşamdan memnuniyetsizliği dayatıyor. Memnun muyuz hayatımızdan? Çoğumuz değiliz. Bir şeyler elde edemeyince hemen mutsuz oluyoruz. Memnuniyetsiz hayatın oluşumuna sadece reklamlara dayandırmak abes olabilir ama etkisi çok büyük. Evden çıktığınızda cebinizden para eksilmediği gün var mı? Hep bir şeyler alma çabasındayız. O hazzı yaşamaya şartlandırıldık. ( Evinde okuyacağın kitap çok, hala alıyorsun durmadan ! Kendime bu söz :P ) Kitabın arka planında kapitalizm eleştirisi, bürokrasiyi karşı inceden bir gönderme var.Kitabı mutlaka okuyun. Ufkunuz genişleyecek. Belgeselini de linkini paylaşıyım. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8Irt...
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  • صان
    January 1, 1970
    فکر میکردم قراره یک کتاب آلندوباتنی باشه درباره دیدن و نحوه تحلیل آثار هنری. اما بحثاش کمی عمیقتر و سختدرکتر بود و شاید کمی تخصصیتر. برای کسی میتونست جذاب باشه که علاقه به تاریخ هنر و فلسفه هنر داشته باشه. بخش سوماش رو کمتر میفهمیدم اما بخشهای دیگه با دقیق خوندن؛ درنهایت قابل فهم بود! فکر می‌کردم قراره یک کتاب آلن‌دوباتنی باشه درباره دیدن و نحوه تحلیل آثار هنری. اما بحثاش کمی عمیق‌تر و سخت‌درک‌تر بود و شاید کمی تخصصی‌تر. برای کسی می‌تونست جذاب باشه که علاقه به تاریخ هنر و فلسفه هنر داشته باشه. بخش سوم‌اش رو کمتر می‌فهمیدم اما بخش‌های دیگه با دقیق خوندن؛ درنهایت قابل فهم بود!
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  • Megankellie
    January 1, 1970
    On the top floor in the Strand Bookstore in New York, I saw a self-consciously bored worker show a struggling-to-be-bored kid with his mom to the art table. The worker was like "well, you need this, and this, and this" and I realized the kid must be in art school and the worker must have graduated pretty recently. The worker was like "have you read Ways of Seeing? By John Berger?" and wanted to have geeky enthusiasm, but kept her eyes half closed and only lifted the book two inches. The kid was On the top floor in the Strand Bookstore in New York, I saw a self-consciously bored worker show a struggling-to-be-bored kid with his mom to the art table. The worker was like "well, you need this, and this, and this" and I realized the kid must be in art school and the worker must have graduated pretty recently. The worker was like "have you read Ways of Seeing? By John Berger?" and wanted to have geeky enthusiasm, but kept her eyes half closed and only lifted the book two inches. The kid was like "no, what is that?" and trying not to care. The worker was like, totally monotone, "well, it's really amazing. You'll have to read that. Everyone reads it. Anyway, it's awesome." Then they went away and I picked it up, because I would like to go to art school, learn 1,000 techniques and become spiritually fulfilled, kind, married, a terrific cook, and understand flowers etc. and make informative life-affirming web shorts that are not irrelevant. In the bookstore, Ways of Seeing was boring but I decided it was my fault. Months later, I found it in a library in Santa Cruz, California. It is printed in bold type for no reason. I guess it is interesting. Oil paintings were about conspicuous consumption back in the day. Only women are conscious about what they present to the world looks-wise. Fetishizing the past helps aristocrats stay aristocrats. Capitalists turned art into a commodity. This is apparently all pulled from a BBC special which I bet is more interesting. At a certain point in your life this will BLOW YOUR MIND, but if you know in your heart that one day we will all hate stainless steel kitchens and be like "ugh, so old fashioned, barf" you will probably be like "yeah, this was okay."
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  • Narjes Dorzade
    January 1, 1970
    .اگر کتاب رو خوندید و یا حتی نخوندید . حتما مستند " راه های نگریستن " رو که خود جان برجر ساخته ببنید . مستند بی نظیری که حتی جامع تر از کتابه ..ممنون آقای جان برجر بیشتر برای مستند ❤
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  • M.
    January 1, 1970
    Böyle şahane bir kitabı siyah beyaz basan Metis'i kınıyorum. Tamamen tablolarla dolu bir kitabı siyah beyaz basmak... Akıl alır şey değil.
  • Zuberino
    January 1, 1970
    জন বারজার কয়েকদিন আগেই মারা গেলেন। পেরিফেরাল ভিশনে থাকা বিখযাত লোকের মত তার মৃতযুসংবাদ নজরে পড়ে - কিনতু তখনো তার কোন বই পড়া হয় নাই। আর সব কিছু ছাপায় তো আসলে এই বইটাই - ১৯৭২ সালে বিবিসির জনযে বানানো একটা চার পরবের পরামানযচিতর ছিল পরথমে (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utEoR... পুরোটাই ইউটিউবে আছে) - পরে সেটা বের হলো পুসতকাকারে।দুইদিন আগে Ways of Seeing হাতে পেলাম। আরট বিষয়ক বই, এতটুকু জানতাম - কিনতু ভিতরে কি আছে, কেন এই বইকে বৈপলবিক গণয করা হয়, তার কিছুই জানা ছিল না। সাতটা ছোট ছোট অধযায় আছে বইয়ে জন বার্জার কয়েকদিন আগেই মারা গেলেন। পেরিফেরাল ভিশনে থাকা বিখ্যাত লোকের মত তার মৃত্যুসংবাদ নজরে পড়ে - কিন্তু তখনো তার কোন বই পড়া হয় নাই। আর সব কিছু ছাপায় তো আসলে এই বইটাই - ১৯৭২ সালে বিবিসির জন্যে বানানো একটা চার পর্বের প্রামান্যচিত্র ছিল প্রথমে (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utEoR... পুরোটাই ইউটিউবে আছে) - পরে সেটা বের হলো পুস্তকাকারে।দুইদিন আগে Ways of Seeing হাতে পেলাম। আর্ট বিষয়ক বই, এতটুকু জানতাম - কিন্তু ভিতরে কি আছে, কেন এই বইকে বৈপ্লবিক গণ্য করা হয়, তার কিছুই জানা ছিল না। সাতটা ছোট ছোট অধ্যায় আছে বইয়ে - তার মধ্যে তিনটা শুধু পেইন্টিংয়ের এর সাদা কালো রিপ্রোডাকশন - পাতার পর পাতা পর পাতা। বাকি থাকে চারটা অধ্যায় - টেক্সট এবং ছবির মিশ্ৰণ। বার্জার আশ্বস্ত করেন - যে কোন সিকোয়েন্সই পড়া যাবে। ট্রেনে বসে তৃতীয় অধ্যায় খুলে সেটাই পড়া শুরু করলাম - নারীকে নিয়ে। প্রথমেই জানালেন - "Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at." কি সহজ, কি অবভিয়াস - তবুও নির্বোধ পুরুষের কাছে কি অরিজিনাল এই ইনসাইট। বাকি অধ্যায়টুকু দুর্ধর্ষ। পশ্চিমা পেইন্টিংয়ে নারীমূর্তি, বিশেষ করে ন্যুডের মর্তবা কি, সেই রহস্যের গভীরে গেছেন। Nude আর naked এর আপাত:সরল কার্যতঃ কমপ্লিকেটেড পার্থক্য অনুসন্ধান করেছেন। পঞ্চম অধ্যায় তৈলচিত্রের বিকাশের সাথে পুঁজিবাদের ওতপ্রোত সম্পর্কের উদ্ঘাটন, সপ্তম অধ্যায় পাবলিসিটি বা এডভার্টাইজিং জগতের বিশ্লেষণ - এই অধ্যায়েই চলে এসেছে সম্পূর্ণ ভিন্ন এক প্রসঙ্গে ১৯৭১-এর বাঙালি শরণার্থী ক্রাইসিস। আর প্রথম অধ্যায় (আমার পড়া শেষটি) "ম্যাস রিপ্রোডাকশনের" ফলে শিল্পের সহজলভ্যতার এই যুগে আর্টের অর্থ, অরিজিনাল আর্ট যেটি কপির কল্যাণে কারো কাছে আর অপরিচিত নয়, সেই অরিজিনালের কি ভুমিকা, সেসব নিয়ে প্রশ্ন। বার্জার লিখেছেন সরল ভাষায়, অনেক সময়ে টিভিতে বলা কথাগুলোই তুলে দিয়েছেন বইয়ের পাতায়। তবুও Ways of Seeing বেশ দুরূহপাঠ্য, এর প্রতিটি লাইনে নিহিত আইডিয়ার সমারোহের কারণে, তাদের প্রথাভাঙা অভিনবত্বের কারণে। এক একটি প্যারাগ্রাফ দু-তিনবার করে পড়েছি। কিন্তু বইটি প্রকৃতই বোঝার মত বালেগ হয়েছি কিনা, সন্দেহ থেকেই যায়। তবুও বার্জারকে ধন্যবাদ কারণ তিনি এই পাঠককে চ্যালেঞ্জ করেছেন, চিরচেনা বিষয় নিয়ে নতুন করে ভাবিয়েছেন, চিন্তায় ফেলে দিয়েছেন, সর্বোপরি গতানুগতিকতা থেকে বেরিয়ে এসে নতুন দৃষ্টি দিয়ে দেখার আহবান অথবা চ্যালেঞ্জ ছুঁড়ে দিয়েছেন। একবার নয়, বরং বারবার ফিরে আসার মত একটি বই। প্রয়াত লেখকের প্রতি অশেষ শ্রদ্ধা।
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  • Mina
    January 1, 1970
    If you think you like looking art and going to galleries - ha - then you need to take a minute to read and listen to this conversation Berger is going to have with you.Link to the documentary (which I definitely recommend you watch to supplement the reading of the text): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pDE4...Will add my proper in-depth review of this later (as it really does deserve one). For now, I will just say that Berger makes us think: he makes us think about the impact of images, their h If you think you like looking art and going to galleries - ha - then you need to take a minute to read and listen to this conversation Berger is going to have with you.Link to the documentary (which I definitely recommend you watch to supplement the reading of the text): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pDE4...Will add my proper in-depth review of this later (as it really does deserve one). For now, I will just say that Berger makes us think: he makes us think about the impact of images, their history, their place in society and their role in furthering capitalist agendas. He makes us think about the image of women, the role they play in the system, the condition of modern galleries and museums, and most importantly, Berger makes us think about the modern day photograph and what it means for me as a functioning member of society - it's all very insightful and he demystifies art in a fashion which is simple to understand as far as theory goes. Very marxist in his views and vocabulary (which I know will bother some) but I enjoyed that part hah.
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  • Peycho Kanev
    January 1, 1970
    Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.But there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words. It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.* * *Publicity is the life of this culture – in so far as without publicity capitalism could not survive – and at the same Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.But there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words. It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.* * *Publicity is the life of this culture – in so far as without publicity capitalism could not survive – and at the same time publicity is its dream.Capitalism survives by forcing the majority, whom it exploits, to define their own interests as narrowly as possible. This was once achieved by extensive deprivation. Today in the developed countries it is being achieved by imposing a false standard of what is and what is not desirable.
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  • Syd Amir
    January 1, 1970
    آیا به راستی مورخان و منتقدان، هنر را بیش از حد پیچیده و مبهم نمیکنند؟ایا مفاهیم انتزاعی متون آکادمیک مربوط به هنر مانع از تجربه ی انضمامی و دست اول هنر نمیشوند؟ آیا مورخان نقش نظام های طبقاتی و مسایل اقتصادی، نقش امیال اقشار مرفه جامعه را در خط دهی و تولید هنر را لاپوشانی نمی کنند؟کتاب متن پیاده و تصحیح شده یک برنامه ی تلویزیونی دهه 90 آمریکاست. نویسنده در این کتاب فارغ از پیش فرض های پیچیده، شما را به دیدار نقاشی میبرد. جایی که در لابه لای شیوه ی استادانه ی کشیدن حالات چهره پرسوناژ های قرن هفد آیا به راستی مورخان و منتقدان، هنر را بیش از حد پیچیده و مبهم نمیکنند؟ایا مفاهیم انتزاعی متون آکادمیک مربوط به هنر مانع از تجربه ی انضمامی و دست اول هنر نمیشوند؟ آیا مورخان نقش نظام های طبقاتی و مسایل اقتصادی، نقش امیال اقشار مرفه جامعه را در خط دهی و تولید هنر را لاپوشانی نمی کنند؟کتاب متن پیاده و تصحیح شده یک برنامه ی تلویزیونی دهه 90 آمریکاست. نویسنده در این کتاب فارغ از پیش فرض های پیچیده، شما را به دیدار نقاشی میبرد. جایی که در لابه لای شیوه ی استادانه ی کشیدن حالات چهره پرسوناژ های قرن هفدهمی، نگاه بالا به پایین و شهوت به تصویر کشیدن مایملک سفارش دهندگان نقاشی های رنگ روغن پنهان شده است. کتاب با این آگاهی تاریخی سراغ تبلیغات و دیگر مسایل معاصر میرود و خط و ربط نگاه مردانه به زنان در نقاشی های رنگ روغن، نگاه مالک مآبانه در نقاشی های پرتره و منظره قرن هفدهمی را این بار در تبلیغات می یابد.پیش نقدی بر کتاب را میتوانید این جا بیابید:http://ganje.blog.ir/post/18
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  • Jimmy
    January 1, 1970
    A book about basic visual literacy, with 7 essays, 3 of them containing only images. It's not that he's original... he borrows a lot ideas from Walter Benjamin and Claude Levi-Strauss, but that he explains it in clear, easy language, with examples.The chapter about oil painting was especially illuminating for me, as I had never understood how to tell a "great" oil painting from a mediocre one, having no context in which to see them. But Berger here really dissects the historical origins of the f A book about basic visual literacy, with 7 essays, 3 of them containing only images. It's not that he's original... he borrows a lot ideas from Walter Benjamin and Claude Levi-Strauss, but that he explains it in clear, easy language, with examples.The chapter about oil painting was especially illuminating for me, as I had never understood how to tell a "great" oil painting from a mediocre one, having no context in which to see them. But Berger here really dissects the historical origins of the form, and what oil really allowed artists to do that they weren't able to do before.Major turn off: the entire book is set in bold type. I have no idea why this decision was made, but the book is worth reading, despite this huge flaw. Another smaller flaw: a book about images should definitely have been printed in color.
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  • Miss Ravi
    January 1, 1970
    کتابی نبود که انتظار داشتم. درسته که دقیقاً داشت شیوههای نگریستن رو بررسی میکرد اما تحلیلهاش طوری نبود که بتونم ازش چیزی یاد بگیرم. و در آخر چیزی دستم رو بگیره. فصل اول یهجورایی ادامهای بود بر مقالهی «اثر هنری در عصر بازتولید مکانیکی»ِ والتر بنیامین که خب نمیتونم بگم چیزی هم به اون اضافه کرده بود. فصل دوم بررسی دورههای مختلف نقاشی و رویکرد نقاشها به سوژههاشون بود و فصل آخر هم به تبلیغات میپرداخت که در عین جذابیتِ متن، برای من ارضاکننده نبود. این میتونه نتیجهی خریدِ اینترنتیِ کتاب باشه بی اون که کتابی نبود که انتظار داشتم. درسته که دقیقاً داشت شیوه‌های نگریستن رو بررسی می‌کرد اما تحلیل‌هاش طوری نبود که بتونم ازش چیزی یاد بگیرم. و در آخر چیزی دستم رو بگیره. فصل اول یه‌جورایی ادامه‌ای بود بر مقاله‌ی «اثر هنری در عصر بازتولید مکانیکی»ِ والتر بنیامین که خب نمی‌تونم بگم چیزی هم به اون اضافه کرده بود. فصل دوم بررسی دوره‌های مختلف نقاشی و رویکرد نقاش‌ها به سوژه‌هاشون بود و فصل آخر هم به تبلیغات می‌پرداخت که در عین جذابیتِ متن، برای من ارضاکننده نبود. این می‌تونه نتیجه‌ی خریدِ اینترنتیِ کتاب باشه بی اون که تونسته باشی پیش از خوندن، توی کتابفروشی تورقش کرده باشی!
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  • cypt
    January 1, 1970
    Mixed feelings. Pradžia buvo visiškai nostabi, po kas antro sakinio žymėdavausi ką nors paraštėje, bet po to kažkaip atšalau. Bet visgi apskritai gera. Kaip kažkas komentaruose rašė - puikus high-school įvadas į kritinę teoriją. Aš jau nebe high-school, bet, matyt, įvadas nepamaišo :)Nežiūrėjau serialo, pagal kurį parengta knyga, tai viskas buvo šviežia (sort of). Esmė - Bergeris ir 4 jo kolegos (neįtraukti ant viršelio - nice? "nice"?) kalba apie vaizdų, vizualiojo meno, suvokimą. Tokius bazini Mixed feelings. Pradžia buvo visiškai nostabi, po kas antro sakinio žymėdavausi ką nors paraštėje, bet po to kažkaip atšalau. Bet visgi apskritai gera. Kaip kažkas komentaruose rašė - puikus high-school įvadas į kritinę teoriją. Aš jau nebe high-school, bet, matyt, įvadas nepamaišo :)Nežiūrėjau serialo, pagal kurį parengta knyga, tai viskas buvo šviežia (sort of). Esmė - Bergeris ir 4 jo kolegos (neįtraukti ant viršelio - nice? "nice"?) kalba apie vaizdų, vizualiojo meno, suvokimą. Tokius bazinius dalykus - kas yra klasikinė perspektyva, unikali Vakarų kultūrai nuo Renesanso, ką ji gali pasakyti apie pačią kultūrą, kokį/kokią žiūrėtoją formuoja. Šita dalis žiauriai faina. O toliau - kuo ypatingas moters vaizdavimas Vakarų mene (objektas, skirtas žiūrėti), kas yra aliejinė tapyba (turtuolių išsidirbinėjimas ir statuso įtvirtinimas), kas yra viešumas (bandymas prakišt senovės vaizdų kaip vertingos prekės).Iš tiesų tas vienaplanis neomarksistinis žvilgsnis, kad tipo viską valdo kapitalas ir viskas atspindi piniginius santykius, mane ir biesino, bent truputį. Jei Holbeino ambasadoriai žiūri atsainiai (o kaip mums tą patikrint ar su tuo diskutuot??), tai dėl to, kad nori būti nepasiekiami buržujai. Jei vaizduojama žemė, tai turbūt kaip privati nuosavybė, jei gyvūnas - tai būtinai fermerio turtas. Ir būtinai pabrėžiama, kad tai matyti iš vaizdavimo būdo (+karvės piešinukas šalia). Sorry, o koks yra kitas karvės vaizdavimo būdas? Jei karvė iš šono - tai jau būtinai čia skerdienos perspektyva? Nu nžn. Po to - jei moteris vaizduojama visada išsirengusi ir atsisukusi į žiūrovą, tai dėl to, kad ji pateikiama kaip prekė. Su šituo nesiginčyčiau - bet gal nebūtinai tai turi rodyti kapitalizmo apraišką? Gal tai rodo mentaliteto lūžius? Moralės kažkokius dvigubus žaidimus? Ką noriu pasakyti - šita knyga nėra kultūros studija, tokia kavoliška prasme, ir būtent dėl to biški nuvylė, nes būčiau norėjusi skaityti tą patį, tik kavoliškai. Tipo aš negaliu už tai nuimt žvaigždutės? Bet juk mes kapitalistiniam pasauly. Aš mokėjau už knygą pinigus (nevogiau, mind you), aš nebuvau patenkinta knyga, aš, kaip buržujiška vartotoja, nuimu žvaižgdutę. Ir aš tą galiu, thanks to kapitalas!Bet - labai daug ką jie įvardino gana anksti. Visą moters kaip žiūrimos sampratą aprašė dar iki svarbiųjų Mulvey tekstų. Kitų idėjinių kontekstų nežinau, bet ir popvaizdinių studija atrodo gana ankstyva. Tai mums dabar, jau prisiskaičiusioms visokių ten teorijų, viskas būk tai žinoma. O knyga visgi parašyta 1972 ir, kaip teorinis veikalas, yra tiesiog žavingai suprantamai paskaitoma.
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  • Umut
    January 1, 1970
    Ocak ayında kaybettiğimiz John Berger'in BBC için hazırladığı programın araştırma kitabı bu. İsteyenler youtube üzerinden bu 4 bölümlük mini diziyi izleyebilirler. Şahsen ben o diziyi izledikten sonra bu kitabı öğrendim. BBC serisi beni daha çok etkilese de kitap ayrıntılı bilgiler içeriyor.Dizilere paralel şekilde 4 ana bölümü var:Özellikle fotoğraf makinesi ve kopyalama olanaklarının artması nedeniyle imgelerin anlamının değiştiğini görüyoruz. Biricik sanat eseri kavramı artık eskisi gibi deği Ocak ayında kaybettiğimiz John Berger'in BBC için hazırladığı programın araştırma kitabı bu. İsteyenler youtube üzerinden bu 4 bölümlük mini diziyi izleyebilirler. Şahsen ben o diziyi izledikten sonra bu kitabı öğrendim. BBC serisi beni daha çok etkilese de kitap ayrıntılı bilgiler içeriyor.Dizilere paralel şekilde 4 ana bölümü var:Özellikle fotoğraf makinesi ve kopyalama olanaklarının artması nedeniyle imgelerin anlamının değiştiğini görüyoruz. Biricik sanat eseri kavramı artık eskisi gibi değil, imgelere bölünerek anlamı çoğaltılılıyor ve yönlendiriliyor.2.bölüm Avrupa yağlıboya resimlerinde nü kavramı ve kadın algımıza yarattığı etki üzerine. Erkeğin gözleyen kadının ise gözlenen olması, seyredilmesi. Çoğu nü tablonun aslında seyredenin isteklerine göre yaratılmış olması.3.bölümde yağlıboya resimlerin aslında üst sınıf mülkiyetinin kafa kağıdı olduğunu görüyoruz. Elbet tarihi kazananlar yazıyorsa, özenerek baktığımız sanat eserlerinde de kazananları göreceğiz.Ve imgelerin yolculuğunun günümüz kapitalizminde son bulduğu 4. bölüm. Reklamlar Avrupa görsel sanatının ölümünün ilanı ve biz gösterilen bu havucun peşinde koşturup duruyoruz.Bence John Berger kral çıplak demiş, belki de bu yüzden pek sevilmiyordur. Ben ise ezberbozanlardan yanayım.
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  • Dorotea
    January 1, 1970
    The book contains a series of essays, all related to art. I read this collection right after having come back from London – having spent days surrounded by art works. I had a million thoughts about art itself and museums, and art works in museums. I wrote out some of my thoughts and then came across some of the same ideas in this insightful beautiful booklet. Perhaps this is why I feel so strongly towards the first of the essays. Nevertheless, I try here to capture the essence of it, in some quo The book contains a series of essays, all related to art. I read this collection right after having come back from London – having spent days surrounded by art works. I had a million thoughts about art itself and museums, and art works in museums. I wrote out some of my thoughts and then came across some of the same ideas in this insightful beautiful booklet. Perhaps this is why I feel so strongly towards the first of the essays. Nevertheless, I try here to capture the essence of it, in some quotes that I deem crucial:I:• An image became a record of how X had seen Y.• The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe• If we accept that we can see that hill over there, we propose that from that hill we can be seen. The reciprocal nature of vision is more fundamental than that of spoken dialogue. And often dialogue is an attempt to verbalize this – an attempt to explain how, either metaphorically or literally, ‘you see things’, and an attempt to discover how ‘he sees things'.• An image is a sight which has been recreated or reproduced. It is an appearance, or a set of appearances, which has been detached from the place and time in which it first made its appearance and preserved – for a few moments or a few centuries. Every image embodies a way of seeing.• Yet, although every image embodies a way of seeing, our perception or appreciation of an image depends also upon our own way of seeing.• In the end, the art of the past is being mystified because a privileged minority is striving to invent a history which can retrospectively justify the role of the ruling classes, and such a justification can no longer make sense in modern terms. And so, inevitably, it mystifies.• Today we see the art of the past as nobody saw it before. We actually perceive it in a different way.• The art of the past no longer exists as it once did. Its authority is lost. In its place there is a language of images. What matters now is who uses that language for what purposeIII:• [A woman’s] nakedness is not, however, an expression of her own feelings; it is a sign of her submission to the owner’s feelings or demands.• Almost all post-Renaissance European sexual imagery is frontal – either literally or metaphorically – because the sexual protagonist is the spectator-owner looking at it.• Here and in the European tradition generally, the convention of not painting the hair on a woman’s body helps towards the same end. Hair is associated with sexual power, with passion. The woman’s sexual passion needs to be minimized so that the spectator may feel that he has the monopoly of such passion• It is worth noticing that in other non-European traditions – in Indian art, Persian art, African art, Pre-Columbian art – nakedness is never supine in this way. And if, in these traditions, the theme of a work is sexual attraction, it is likely to show active sexual love as between two people, the woman as active as the man, the actions of each absorbing the other.V:• “What distinguishes oil painting from any other form of painting is its special ability to render the tangibility, the texture, the lustre, the solidity of what it depicts. It defines the real as that which you can put your hands on. Although its painted images are two-dimensional, its potential of illusionism is far greater than that of sculpture, for it can suggest objects possessing colour, texture and temperature, filling a space and, by implication, filling the entire world.”• “Oil paintings often depict things. Things which in reality are buyable. To have a thing painted and put on a canvas is not unlike buying it and putting it in your house. If you buy a painting you buy also the look of the thing it represents.”• “The art of any period tends to serve the ideological interests of the ruling class” • “Such a painting is a demonstration of more than the virtuosity of the artist. It confirms the owner’s wealth and habitual style of living”• “Works of art in earlier traditions celebrated wealth. But wealth was then a symbol of a fixed social or divine order. Oil painting celebrated a new kind of wealth – which was dynamic and which found its only sanction in the supreme buying power of money. Thus painting itself had to be able to demonstrate the desirability of what money could buy. And the visual desirability of what can be bought lies in its tangibility, in how it will reward the touch, the hand, of the owner.”• “Each time a painter realized that he was dissatisfied with the limited role of painting as a celebration of material property and of the status that accompanied it, he inevitably found himself struggling with the very language of his own art as understood by the tradition of his calling.”
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  • Michael Dipietro
    January 1, 1970
    It's been a while since I read 'Ways of Seeing' for school, but I hated it. Why? In the most simple way, because Berger talks again and again about demystification, yet I found his book to be thinly veiled Socialist propaganda. His Marxist interpretations of paintings can be extremely simplistic and one-sided - making you feel dumb for wanting to appreciate an artwork for its beauty or value as a cultural artifact. All in all, it reads like a text by a highschooler whose critical thinking isn't It's been a while since I read 'Ways of Seeing' for school, but I hated it. Why? In the most simple way, because Berger talks again and again about demystification, yet I found his book to be thinly veiled Socialist propaganda. His Marxist interpretations of paintings can be extremely simplistic and one-sided - making you feel dumb for wanting to appreciate an artwork for its beauty or value as a cultural artifact. All in all, it reads like a text by a highschooler whose critical thinking isn't all that nuanced.
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  • Diz
    January 1, 1970
    This book really made me think about how to view art. In particular, the connection between the oil paintings of the last few hundred years and advertising images was something I had never thought about. This book also presents some insightful criticisms of the use of nudes in traditional art.
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  • Jeremy
    January 1, 1970
    Almost laughably disappointing. Berger obviously has the best of intentions, but his analysis is amateurish at best, pathetically reactionary (almost to the point of seeming to whine) at worst, and largely cribbed from thinkers of far greater intellectual originality and power than himself.For starters, he seems either ignorant of or unwilling to admit that what we broadly call 'mainstream visual art' is, was, and quite likely almost always has been directly tied up with wealth; with commissions Almost laughably disappointing. Berger obviously has the best of intentions, but his analysis is amateurish at best, pathetically reactionary (almost to the point of seeming to whine) at worst, and largely cribbed from thinkers of far greater intellectual originality and power than himself.For starters, he seems either ignorant of or unwilling to admit that what we broadly call 'mainstream visual art' is, was, and quite likely almost always has been directly tied up with wealth; with commissions, patronage, really with human commerce itself. Visual art isn't some pure, 'virginal' endeavor sullied by capitalism. Visual art is a creative activity which is intimately tied into and dependent on capitalism (really, on wealth) in the first place... and with displaying and re-affirming that wealth. His naive disgust with modern capitalism's collusion with art assumes that there was some magical time when art existed in a vacuum of economic/ideological purity, unsullied by the lucre of having to actually pay someone to produce a canvas or carve a church door or gild something. If such 'pure' art even exists in the first place, Berger provides literally no evidence for it: no examples from non-western European, 'traditional' cultures or even folk arts which might conceivably hint that some people make art for nothing more than their own personal pleasure.As if his shallow reading of these issues wasn't bad enough, he then goes on to make the utterly ludicrous claim that portraits of women, nudes, etc, show us that all women everywhere (and only ever women) are essentially shaped (really, he means warped) by the erotic gaze of male longing and domination. That's a powerful idea. It's also utterly indemonstrable and reeks of cheap psycho-analysis. Worse than that...it's a theory concocted to explain and reduce the female experience, which to be sure, has been cruelly unfair for the vast majority of human history, down into a narrow category of sexual expectation. Has John Berger ever MET an actual woman? What could be more bigoted, what could be more misogynistic, than dismissively generalizing all members of the female sex as simply 'damaged' by the male gaze, as if a single tiny statement was enough to claim to understand the full totality of the female experience and female suffering through out history? And of course, his visual examples of this are, again, cheaply cherry picked...just a few nudes (which to be sure, are pathetically offensive). Berger manages the odd feat of trying to empathize with the female subject in art and somehow making himself come across as an arrogant misogynist in the process.The problem with this book is that underneath it's crummy pseudo-analysis is a person who already knows how the world is to such a level of satisfaction that he has nothing left to discover or even really demonstrate about it. Capitalism? Oh it's ruined art. (Never mind telling us about what art from a non-capitalist culture is like) Women? Oh the poor things, they're so warped by male expectations its a miracle they can even stand up (Never mind that you don't relate any actual woman's experience at any point). Photography? Oh that's ruined art too by making images ubiquitous (never mind really examining photography fairly to see the myriad ways it has changed modern culture and modern art) This book proves one thing above all: the complacent intellectual smugness of the person who wrote it.Look, the relationship between the commercial world and the ever-changing world of visual artistic endeavor is a hugely diverse and complicated subject, as is the relationship between art and advertising. As is, especially, the relationship between gender roles and visual art through out history. Thinkers as diverse as Susan Sontag, Walter Benjamin, Virginia Woolf, Naomi Klein, etc. have all written elegantly and movingly about these topics. John Berger's "Ways of Seeing" tries to stand on the shoulders of such thinkers and falls off on nearly every page. Largely because the only thing Berger seems to 'see' is his own self-satisfaction.
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  • Lucinda
    January 1, 1970
    "Seeing comes before words.” Ways of reading - - meaning/ analysis. Personal perspective and context of writing or image. There is a divergence between looking and seeing art and literature. Such as, if one were to apply Marxist literary criticism (Ideology) when examining a work of art. Art is in essence propaganda, thus what it represents is a statement/ critique of capitalism and social hierarchy. If one observes the surface value or façade of art, you will instantaneously connect with it "Seeing comes before words.” Ways of reading - - meaning/ analysis. Personal perspective and context of writing or image. There is a divergence between looking and seeing art and literature. Such as, if one were to apply Marxist literary criticism (Ideology) when examining a work of art. Art is in essence propaganda, thus what it represents is a statement/ critique of capitalism and social hierarchy. If one observes the surface value or façade of art, you will instantaneously connect with its beauty and profundity. Yet, what it represents, in terms of societal power and denotation is fundamental to its double optic. (Berger, 1972, p.32) “Art critiques’ say it has no social or cultural meaning…” However Berger states that the viewer must be open to all aspects The tension between the two aspects, [formalism and materialism] is acute. If you remain subjective and open your mind to all the potential possibilities, then the mystification of an artwork is unravelled. One indeed uses the past to justify the present, for history is always changing and evolving. ‘Fear of the present leads to mystification of the past’ what we see is affected by what we know or what we believe The physical existence of something contains specific connotation, yet the metaphorical meaning behind something [i.e. iconology and symbolic representation] is part of a ‘double optic’. You cannot help but be magnetized by the hypocrisy of such a hypocritical undertone to a reproduced work of art! There is a continuum of thought during the process or act of looking and seeing an image, for instance regarding being and seeming. For, being pushes through what is seen, like showing something rather than telling something (in words). If text accompanies an artwork, then it may enhance or exemplify what is implied. This deeply thought-provoking, philosophical piece of literature is a fascinating exploration into what we think we know…
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  • Holly McIntyre
    January 1, 1970
    I finally pulled this "oldie but goodie" off my shelf and read it. I wish I had years ago.Although the examples from its 1970s origin are dated, its thesis is perhaps even more valid today than then: Oil painting emerged just as the Western world entered the era of capitalism and imperialism. The technique of perspective makes the viewer the center of all he (yes, Virginia, "he") sees, just as "Western man" viewed the resources of the world. Oil paintings, therefore, became a vehicle by which We I finally pulled this "oldie but goodie" off my shelf and read it. I wish I had years ago.Although the examples from its 1970s origin are dated, its thesis is perhaps even more valid today than then: Oil painting emerged just as the Western world entered the era of capitalism and imperialism. The technique of perspective makes the viewer the center of all he (yes, Virginia, "he") sees, just as "Western man" viewed the resources of the world. Oil paintings, therefore, became a vehicle by which Western man could enjoy, in rich realistic detail, what he owned. Since the beginning of the 20th century, art has lost this patron-satisfying confidence, but its bastard child, advertising, has perverted the view even more by presenting, not what is already owned, but what we should desire to own, thus serving the needs of capitalism even further.Yes, a few cobwebs of Marxism hang about the theory, but it provides a thought-provoking analysis of the convergence of artistic technique and social context.
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  • Jule
    January 1, 1970
    I read this book in an AMTRAK train from the Bay Area to Portland. It was eye-opening :). Some of the essays are pictures only, pictures of paintings. The book is a little older, to me it portrays the spirit of its time, I enjoyed quite a few surprising moments. It definitely brightened my train ride through the night. All this Marxist vocab...As the title suggests, "Ways of Seeing" is about the ways we see. How our mind is formed through society and how this conditioning impacts on our percepti I read this book in an AMTRAK train from the Bay Area to Portland. It was eye-opening :). Some of the essays are pictures only, pictures of paintings. The book is a little older, to me it portrays the spirit of its time, I enjoyed quite a few surprising moments. It definitely brightened my train ride through the night. All this Marxist vocab...As the title suggests, "Ways of Seeing" is about the ways we see. How our mind is formed through society and how this conditioning impacts on our perception and, well, what we see in the end.I became curious about this book, because, one, the cover is the picture of one of my favourite artists - Magritte. Second, a friend and I had wondered about why we view in the first place. I wanted nothing more than to share this book with him, but I don't know the reasons for why he did not see. So it is back sitting on my shelf. Come pick it up.
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  • Faryal
    January 1, 1970
    Read this for my Composition class. Its a great read when first read since his main ideas stand out, have clarity, and are verified (to some degree), however re-reading it introduces the more "radical" ideas. In his essay he raises the idea of "mysticification." Which is great and all but he chooses to not define it. I had to keep going back trying to find a definition in context however failed. He seems to switch it around a lot.My Composition professor raised a good point- Berger is so against Read this for my Composition class. Its a great read when first read since his main ideas stand out, have clarity, and are verified (to some degree), however re-reading it introduces the more "radical" ideas. In his essay he raises the idea of "mysticification." Which is great and all but he chooses to not define it. I had to keep going back trying to find a definition in context however failed. He seems to switch it around a lot.My Composition professor raised a good point- Berger is so against mytification but Is he mystifying art in the essay? He seems to be talking in circles, as some of his ideas lack clarity.It is a good read however a torture to analyze. I think it wasn't even meant to be analyzed.Nevertheless he raises interesting points that must be read.
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