Humanities 1301 Rough Draft
Berger Rough Draft
For this assignment, we were to view the four-part series, Ways of Seeing by John Berger. Berger was an English art critic and novelist who had a profound impact on art and the way we visualize and interpret it to this day. In Ways of Seeing, Berger examined four different aspects of art. In part one, he looked at the history of European oil painting, before moving on to the way women are viewed, the way they view themselves, and the impact that art has upon those views. In parts three and four, Berger examines the subjects of wealth, publicity and glamour. Berger argues that art shapes how we see the world as a whole.
In part one, Berger examined how the invention of the camera and reproductions of traditional European oil paintings changed the context in which we view them. “The reproduction of works of art can be used by anybody for their own purposes” (Berger, episode 1). Here, Berger was emphasizing how reproductions misconstrue the true intended meaning of the work of art. He further demonstrated this by showing a Goya painting of a man being executed, once switching the channel to a comedic dance, and once to an actual execution. This helped put into context the meaning of the painting. When seeing the dancing, the painting may be viewed as just a painting. With the execution, the emotion of the painting is put into perspective. It shows how media and reproductions change the meanings of paintings.
In episode two, Berger looks at how women view themselves and how they are viewed. He says, in a way, that women view themselves through men’s eyes, stating that women in paintings are often viewed as objects as opposed to people. Berger said that women are often viewed for the pleasure of men and went on to define the difference between nude and nakedness. As Berger said it, “To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others, yet not recognized as oneself.” This still rings true today.
In the final two episodes, Berger looks at aspects in art such as wealth, publicity and glamour. Berger said, “If you buy a painting, you also buy the look of the thing it represents.” This relates to the point he made of artists portraying themselves as wealthy through their paintings. On glamour and publicity, Berger says that people seek these things to be enviable. Throughout the end of the series, Berger shows that everything shown in art and reproduction must be judged through one’s own experience.
Review of Another Reader
When reviewing another reader’s response to Berger’s work, I found myself reading an article from Dazed Digital, written by one Emma Hope Allwood. Allwood began her article with a quote of Berger from episode two of Ways of Seeing:
“A woman is always accompanied, except when quite alone, and perhaps even then, by her own image of herself. While she is walking across a room or weeping at the death of her father, she cannot av...