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About Looking Paperback – January 8, 1992
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"Instant readability ... [Berger] makes one see [paintings] as statements or questions in a living language." -- New Statesman
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Top Customer Reviews
Mr. John Berger's book, "About Looking", will radically change your perception of what you see.
Much of the book is dedicated to explaining how various artists' works should be visually understood, what a casual viewer would observe as opposed to someone who is trained in art. I have generally found the long-winded, affected, and pretentious descriptions of art by "Art Experts" to be ridiculous at best and coma inducing more the norm. As Mr. Berger takes you through various artists and how he "sees" their work the language can still seem a bit affected, but as you read, this man uses the words he needs. To suggest he is affecting his explanations would be a petty way to express one's ignorance. Read what he says, and you will see things, as you have not before.
I enjoyed the entire book, however the essays, "Why Look At Animals, and, Uses of Photography", were of greatest interest. They went beyond the explanation of expanding the methods of how the visual can be expanded and included History, Anthropology, and Sociology as well. Many people find zoos artificial, perverse, or even fraudulent. When you read this man's explanation of Animals, our relationships to them over time and how we see them, and they us, regardless of what you now feel you will feel differently.
The same is true in his essay on photography.Read more ›
Berger writes in a style that I enjoy, descriptive and without concern for the grammatical structure that the nuns taught me in elementary school. That is not to say it is poorly written, Berger does take some license with proper English. Still the florid prose is very entertaining to me.
I agree with the political concerns that the author has but I do have a problem with his presentation. In particular he discusses the uses of visual images for propaganda and how art was manipulated by Nazi Germany. This is true but then he describes how art can be used to promote socially progressive ideology. In my own opinion propaganda is propaganda whether it is from the left or the right of the political spectrum.
A second issue I take with this author is that he takes some pretty fanciful leaps in his determination of what some artistic ploy means. He described a series of sculptures that would be placed next to a wall. One side of the sculptures was flat. He determined that this was not due to their inevitable placement but to some other factor.
My last issue has to do with presentation. Berger makes a lot of assumptions that are personal. They are undoubtedly a result of a lot of thinking, reading and discussing art. I do not necessarily think they are wrong. He does however, assume that he is correct. Several times this occurred when I was unable to see from his perspective at all.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Crappy when it comes down to it. How can you decide for someone what it's fine to see?Published 13 months ago by MateoDLR
There are some great observations in here, if you can wade through the subjective hoo-ha. You might want to pick up a beret to wear while you read this.Published on November 30, 2008 by Wesley James
The book was in great condition and came very prompty. I know nothing about art history, so this book is way over my head.Published on October 16, 2005 by S. J. Silver