Ways of Seeing

waysBy John Berger

This book, based on the 70s BBC TV series, is used as a text in many art schools around the UK. There was an article by Berger on Mayakovsky in ‘Night Wraps the Sky’ which was good so I thought I should read this small book.

It was interesting and it got better as it went on. The first article seemed a product of its time and I was left harbouring suspicions of hippy dippy intent. That changed as it went on and things got more and more intriguing. The analysis of women in art was excellent and the final article is worth buying the book for. A great line was:

Publicity turns consumption into a substitute for democracy.

The word publicity can probably be replaced by ‘marketing’. There are many excellent ideas and analogies throughout.

Berger also has a very real consideration for the working people and how they are marginalised by the artistic establishment and controlled by publicity and capitalism. This isn’t  middle-class navel gazing and posturing without regard for the majority – the working population.

The upshot is that if you haven’t read Berger, as I had not, then this book is a very good introduction to some of his ideas which I believe are developed more fully over the next forty years in numerous fiction and non-fiction works. I will start to concern myself with some of these and they will doubtless be posted.


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