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About John Berger
John Berger was born in London in 1926. He is well known for his novels and stories as well as for his works of nonfiction, including several volumes of art criticism. His first novel, A Painter of Our Time, was published in 1958, and since then his books have included the novel G., which won the Booker Prize in 1972. In 1962 he left Britain permanently, and he lives in a small village in the French Alps.
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How do we see the world around us? The Penguin on Design series includes the works of creative thinkers whose writings on art, design and the media have changed our vision forever.
"Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak."
"But there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words. It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but word can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled."
John Berger's Ways of Seeing is one of the most stimulating and 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 on how we look at paintings . . . he will almost certainly change the way you look at pictures." By now he has.
With profound compassion, Berger explores the hearts and minds of both men and women, and what happens during sex, to reveal the conditions of the libertine's success: his essential loneliness, the quiet cumulation in each of his sexual experiences of all of those that precede it, the tenderness that infuses even the briefest of his encounters, and the way women experience their own extraordinariness through their liaisons with him. Set against the turbulent backdrop of Garibaldi's attempt to unite Italy, the failed revolution of Milanese workers in 1898, the Boer War and the dramatic first flight across the Alps, G. is a brilliant novel about the search for intimacy in the turmoil of history.
'We live within a spectacle of empty clothes and unworn masks'
In this series of remarkable pieces from across his career, John Berger celebrates and dissects the close links between art and society and the individual. Few writers give a more vivid and moving sense of how we make art and how art makes us.
One of twenty new books in the bestselling Penguin Great Ideas series. This new selection showcases a diverse list of thinkers who have helped shape our world today, from anarchists to stoics, feminists to prophets, satirists to Zen Buddhists.
When John Berger wrote this apparently unclassifiable book, it was to become a sensation, translated into nine languages and indelible from the minds of those who read it. This stunning work is a shoebox filled with delicate love letters containing poetry and thoughts on mortality, art, love and absence, capturing moments in time that hover above Berger's surprising landscapes. From his lyrical description of the works of Caravaggio and profound explorations of death and immigration to the sight of some lilac at dusk in the mountains, this is a beautiful and most intimate response to the world around us.
John Berger's writings on photography are some of the most original of the twentieth century. This selection contains many groundbreaking essays and previously uncollected pieces written for exhibitions and catalogues in which Berger probes the work of photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and W. Eugene Smith - and the lives of those photographed - with fierce engagement, intensity and tenderness.
The selection is made and introduced by Geoff Dyer, author of the award-winning The Ongoing Moment.
How do we see the world around us? This is one of a number of pivotal works by creative thinkers whose writings on art, design and the media have changed our vision for ever.
John Berger was born in London in 1926. His acclaimed works of both fiction and non-fiction include the seminal Ways of Seeing and the novel G., which won the Booker Prize in 1972. In 1962 he left Britain permanently, and he now lives in a small village in the French Alps.
Geoff Dyer is the author of four novels and several non-fiction books. Winner of the Lannan Literary Award, the International Centre of Photography's 2006 Infinity Award and the American Academy of Arts and Letters's E. M. Forster Award, Dyer is also a regular contributor to many publications in the UK and the US. He lives in London.
In A Fortunate Man, Berger's text and the photography of Jean Mohr reveal with extraordinary intensity the life of a remarkable man. It is a portrait of one selfless individual and the rural community for which he became the hub. Drawing on psychology, biography and medicine A Fortunate Man is a portrait of sacrifice. It is also a profound exploration of what it means to be a doctor, to serve a community and to heal.
With a new introduction by writer and GP, Gavin Francis.
With Portraits, world-renowned art writer John Berger took us on a captivating journey through centuries of art, situating each artist in the proper political and historical contexts. In Landscapes, a narrative of Berger’s own journey emerges. Through his penetrating engagement with the writers and artists who shaped his own thought, Walter Benjamin, Rosa Luxemburg and Bertolt Brecht among them, Landscapes allows us to understand how Berger came to his own way of seeing. As always, Berger pushes at the limits of art writing, demonstrating beautifully how his painter’s eyes lead him to refer to himself only as a storyteller. A landscape is, to John Berger, like a portrait, an animating, liberating metaphor rather than a rigid definition. It’s a term, too, that reminds us that there is more here than simply the backdrop or ‘by-work’ of a portrait. Landscapes offers a tour of the history of art, but not as you know it.
Far from being footnotes to the main body of work Berger's essays are absolutely central to it. Many of the ideas of the groundbreaking Ways of Seeing were presented first in essays published in New Society. Polemical, reflective, radically original, Berger's wide-ranging essays emphasise the continuities that have underpinned more than 40 years of tireless intellectual inquiry and political engagement. Viewed chronologically they add up, in fact, to a kind of vicarious autobiography and a history of our time as refracted through the prism of art.
Edited by Geoff Dyer, and published on the occasion of his 75th birthday, this is an essential collection by one of the world's greatest writers.
A major new book from one of the world’s leading writers and art critics
John Berger, one of the world’s most celebrated art writers, takes us through centuries of drawing and painting, revealing his lifelong fascination with a diverse cast of artists. In Portraits, Berger grounds the artists in their historical milieu in revolutionary ways, whether enlarging on the prehistoric paintings of the Chauvet caves or Cy Twombly’s linguistic and pictorial play.
In penetrating and singular prose, Berger presents entirely new ways of thinking about artists both canonized and obscure, from Rembrandt to Henry Moore, Jackson Pollock to Picasso. Throughout, Berger maintains the essential connection between politics, art and the wider study of culture. The result is an illuminating walk through many centuries of visual culture, from one of the contemporary world’s most incisive critical voices.