The book d Ways of Seeing, ed by John Berger, comprises of seven essays. The seven essays focus on different aspects of art with three of them bearing images, while the rest have texts concerning art. The author compiled the different essays in an effort to reveal something about art to the audience. Notably, art has been around for many years, playing a critical role in different societies. Moreover, art has been considered as a critical representation of history. A close analysis of artistic works from older generations reveals something about their lifestyle. The book has two distinct parts, but all the essays reveal the authors convictions about art, its mystification, as well as its interpretation. This paper will present of the book highlighting the main ideas that the author presents.
The first textual essay discusses the existing mystification of art as well as the assumptions made about different pieces of art. In this essay, the author presents his argument that the present if critical if art is to be understood. Moreover, the author is convinced that different processes of reproducing art have served to change its entire meaning. The essay presents numerous examples on how the reproduction of art has served to alter the meaning of the original pieces. Berger is convinced that different reproductions are likely to occur depending on the context. The fact that reproducing art changes its meaning serves to mystify the purpose of the artist who did the original work (Berger 64).
The second essay focuses on women and how they are represented in art. There is evidence that women were viewed differently from men, even in the beginning of different art movements. The man was considered a surveyor of the woman body and physic. This compelled women to remain highly self-conscious because they were subjects of admiration (Berger 68). Burger highlights that nude images of women formed the main subjects in some movements of the European art. In an effort to help the reader understand what was considered nude, the author differentiates the concepts of nakedness and that of nudity. The third essay focuses on oil paintings done in Europe between 1500 and 1900. He associates those paintings with this capitalist ideology, which placed emphasis on materialism (Brown and McBride 255).
The fourth essay in the book is dedicated to advertisements and publicity. The effects of advertisements in altering the perceptions of women are described in this chapter. In the modern day, women seem to be more motivated in believing the fallacies presented in advertising. They are more likely to pursue the kind of happiness and satisfaction promoted by advertisers. This explains why there are different representations of women exposing their sexuality in an effort to promote certain products in the market (Brown and McBride 254). This chapter explores the negative side of artistic representations used in advertisements to persuade people to buy different products.
Evidently, Ways of Seeing qualifies to be an historical book that highlights different aspects of art over the years. It is evident that pieces of art are interpreted differently when reproduced in different forms of media. This serves to mystify the original interpretation of any piece of art. The European representation of women in art also gives attention in the book. The author highlights that women were represented as objects subject to the dominion and admiration of men. In the modern day, advertisements have served to increase the negative perception of women as objects.
Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin, 2008. Internet resource.
Brown, Meg L, and Kari B. McBride. Womens Roles in the Renaissance. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2005. Print.