Ways of Seeing

Ways of Seeing

by John Berger


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John Berger’s seminal text on how to look at art

John 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 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.

"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

"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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140135152
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/28/1990
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 76,321
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.81(h) x 0.59(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Storyteller, novelist, essayist, screenwriter, dramatist and critic, John Berger (1926-2017) was one of the most internationally influential writers of the last fifty years. His many books include Ways of Seeing; the fiction trilogy Into Their LaboursHere Is Where We Meet; the Booker Prize–winning novel GHold Everything Dear; the Man Booker–longlisted From A to X; and A Seventh Man.

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Ways of Seeing 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are ready to question how you see the world around you, read this book. This is not a book of 'knowledge' but a book of questions. Berger and friends are asking some very estute questions about how we portray people. First written nearly 30 years ago, but still very vibrant and relevant.
Thruston on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really interesting insights into how we see and what we see when we look at art, thought provoking rather than authoritative. The Penguin edition rather let it down however due to the poor quality of the reproductions of the works of art under discussion.
JimmyChanga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
humdog on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
how do you know what you are looking at?
alexgalindo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As with most left-wing British intellectuals in the 1970's John Berger was a Marxist, and again as with most British intellectuals in any period of history John Berger had much to say about art. In this book Berger attempts to dismantle the bourgeois stranglehold on art and its meaning. With clear thinking, and provocative writing Berger illuminates both classical and modern art with the glowing end of a serious polemicist's pen.
DanCook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I must confess that I hated this book when studying at University. It seemed to be so trite and obvious, and the photo-essays were nauseatingly one-dimensional. So women's flesh is meat? Berger's ideas seem rather obvious today: that could be either a testament to his triteness or greatness, depending on how much you believe he changed folks' thinking himself, or just rode the changing times.But perhaps he was the embodiment of new thinking in semiotics and mythology in the 60s, and he certainly has a really personable way of presenting the accompanying TV series. I prefer the obvious depth of thinking about signs and symbols and representations you get with anything by Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin or Umberto Eco, to the unanswered questions and unclear meanings of the picture essays.Big? Not at 166 sidesClever? Certainly, but don't expect an academic tome - "Ways of Seeing" blurs a lot of lines: the one between cultural products and dispassionate enquiry key among them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm sure this is a great book, however, it is so poorly typeset (publishers should all know that a book should never be set in a bold sans-serif type) that it makes it impossible to read and it very hard on the eyes. I will be returning it to the store.
FreddyD More than 1 year ago
A teacher made me read this in college and not a month goes by I don't think about it. It sort of makes you rethink things, about how you see art and I guess the world. There's some nudity in it, too, so that always helps.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This a wonderful compliment to the BBC series. It allows for a closer analysis of the images he presents in the special.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MissLadyBird More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book on Art Theory for those looking for a book to read that does not require a dictionary to comprehend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is a good book, if you like seeing thing. A quick book report book for a class. Only 170 pages.