Ways of Seeing

(Book - 1972)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Ways of Seeing
Penguin Putnam
John Berger’s Classic Text on 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 (London)Sunday Times critic commented: "This is an eye-opener in more ways than one: by concentrating onhow we look at paintings . . . he will almost certainly change the way you look at pictures." By now he has.

"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

"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 inWays of Telling

Winner of the 1972 Booker Prize for his novel, G., John Peter Berger (born November 5th, 1926) is an art critic, painter and author of many novels includingA Painter of Our Time, From A to X and Bento’s Sketchbook.

Baker & Taylor
Examines the social implications and psychological impact of the images and conventions of modern and classical artists

Publisher: London : British Broadcasting Corporation; Harmondsworth, Penguin, c1972
ISBN: 0140135154
Branch Call Number: 759.94 W
Characteristics: 165 p. ill. 20 cm.
Additional Contributors: Berger, John


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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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