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Ways of Seeing

A Book

Berger, John

(Book - 1977)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Ways of Seeing
Print
Examines the social implications and psychological impact of the images and conventions of modern and classical artists.
Publisher: London : British Broadcasting Corp. ; London ; New York, N.Y. : Penguin Books, 1977, c1972
ISBN: 0140135154
9780140135152
Branch Call Number: 759.94 B
Characteristics: 166 p. : ill. ; 20 cm.

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Jun 20, 2013
  • zaire189 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A very influential book. It gave me a new perspective toward paintings and photographs.

May 16, 2013
  • xaipe rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"Ways of Seeing" is one of my favorite books and one which I reread every few years. Berger builds some of his arguments on Walter Benjamin’s book "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" but is much more accessible. Like Benjamin, Berger raises questions about hidden ideologies in visual images and explores the idea of art as commodity. Berger deals with the enormous impact of publicity, image saturation, television, reproduction, the illusion of free choice, principles of capitalism, and a discussion of gender and ethnicity. Quite a lot to be packed into a spare 154 pages. The book is based on a 1972 BBC series but don't let that put you off. It is as contemporary as though it had been written today. It is a very "visual" book and relies on many reproductions of ads and paintings with succinct textual commentary. I remember how it opened my eyes to the roles of the viewer and the viewed (anyone interested in French semiotic film theory will love it). One line stood out for me upon first reading many years ago: "Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at." Any book which can shift perception as radically as this shifted mine is worth reading and re-reading in my opinion.

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