Ways of Seeing by John Berger

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."Be...

Details Ways of Seeing

TitleWays of Seeing
Release DateSep 10th, 1990
GenreArt, Nonfiction, Philosophy, Writing, Essays, Art History, Photography

Reviews Ways of Seeing

  • Trevor
    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 th...
  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    Way of Seeing, John Berger Ways of Seeing is a 1972 television series of 30-minute films created chiefly by writer John Berger and producer Mike Dibb. It was broadcast on BBC Two in January 1972 and adapted into a book of the same name. The book Ways of Seeing was written by Berger and Dibb, along with Sven Blomberg, Chris Fox, and Richard Hollis. The book consists of seven numbered essays: four using words and images; and three essays using only...
  • Justin Evans
    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 fir...
  • Pierce
    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 b...
  • Manuel Antão
    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review."Seeing Comes Before Words: "Ways of Seeing" by John Berger “But because it is nevertheless ‘a work of art”’ – and art is thought to be greater than commerce – its market price is said to be a reflection of its spiritual value of an object, as distinct from a message or an example, can only be explained in terms of magic or religion.” In “Ways of Seeing” by John Berge...
  • Riku Sayuj
    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
    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 c...
  • Deborah Palmer
    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 l...
  • Megankellie
    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...
  • Jeremy
    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 b...
  • Marc
    “There is more than meets the eye”I recently reread Kenneth Clark's Civilization. It was based on a British documentary TV series, from the end of the 1960s. In it Clark offers a very own, but still fairly classic introduction to art. The book of John Berger (1926-2017) and the accompanying TV-series (look it up on You Tube!) was released in 1972 and was the antipode of Clark’s. Berger looked at the works of art very differently, or more co...
  • Peycho Kanev
    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 publ...
  • Mina
    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 ...
  • Jimmy
    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 he...
  • Tomas Ramanauskas
    Reading the writting about seeing. Definetly worthy peak into how can we see and read art. Inspite of being almost 50 yrs old, still has the power to expand the understanding. Like this review, ends too abruptly.
  • Pete
    this is a semi regular occurence in my life: books i was assigned to read in college that i did not read or did not read with any great diligence and then some years later i come to learn that said book slaps majorly. berger's project of translating frankfurt school seems particularly worthwhile but also it is just a fun and humane engagement with visual art
  • Dorotea
    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, ...
  • Lucinda
    "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 faça...
  • Holly McIntyre
    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 ...
  • Faryal
    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 p...
  • Diz
    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.
  • Gahermi
    This book is hands down amazing.
  • Sylvie
    John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing” was one of the books I had to read. When the slim volume arrived, it was a bit of an anticlimax: the writing was in bold letters, the photographs of paintings were in black and white, lots of them. Apparently, it sprang out of a series of Television programmes shown in 1972. It is worth watching the series on You Tube, and certainly more rewarding. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnfB-p... He is, I think, the p...
  • Sunil
    Perhaps one of the all time must read small books ( less than 200 pages). Revisited for a reference and ended up rereading it . As fascinating as it is pioneering ( considering it was written in 1972, way back in capitalism's childhood, well before it grew up and cast it's powerful grip around the idea of human life). Berger and co essentially chart the history of visual imagery in art, from the era of oil painting to television, slowly peeling o...
  • Jule
    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...
  • Rachel Louise Atkin
    Have been meaning to read this for ages. Was incredibly informative and well written, discussing oil paintings, depictions of women and and deconstructing our general perception of art. Loved the picture essays as I haven’t really read anything like that before. The final essay on publicity, signs and consumer advertising is probably something I’ll use in a lot in my academic life and I’m so glad to have read it.
  • Kastoori
    A compact book filled with fantastic, radical ideas. I couldn't help admire Berger's delineation of capitalism, proprietorship, publicity, the gaze on females amongst other things. It's a remarkable book to read.
  • Luana
    This was quite an interesting read and very eye-opening with regards to how we perceive art. I especially appreciated the chapter that dealt with the way women are seen in society, with a heavy influence on European culture, and despite being written almost 30 years ago, I think it is still relevant today.
  • Dominika Žáková
    Základná kniha o vizuálnom jazyku! O jedinečnosti diela, moci, zobrazovaní gendru či reklame. Hovorí sama za seba:“For publicity the present is by definition insufficient.(...)Publicity turns consumption into a substitute for democracy. The choice of what one eats (or wears or drives) takes the place of significant political choice.”
  • Christopher Luciano
    All of what I picked up from this atrocity of a Book is that John Berger is a pretentious cunt. He hides behind the fact that he states he's "demystifying" art when in actuality he's giving you his opinion on the propaganda of art and how the artist doesn't exist. I must say first and foremost I am a huge believer in the auteur theory and author's/artist's purpose, so this is why I am opposed to this book. Berger is merely under the assumption th...