Monday, January 02, 2017

John Berger (1926 - 2017) Videos and Obituaries

John Berger has died aged 90.  His essay on art criticism "Ways of Seeing" was hugely influential within the art world.

Below you can
  • SEE videos of some of his programmes and 
  • READ his obituaries. I've very rarely seen so many overseas obituaries so fast after an announcement of a death in the art world.
This is a video of a BBC documentary to celebrate his 90th birthday in 2016. It's filmed at his house in France where he has lived for the last 50 years. Screenshots are from this BBC documentary John Berger: The Art of Looking - I'm sure the iPlayer link will be revived very soon. In the meantime here it is on YouTube.

Below are four videos of his seminal programme - Ways of Seeing - first broadcast by the BBC in 1972. His book associated with the programme became a set text for many art degrees in the UK.

Plus some tweets from those marking his death.

Forty-four years ago he was a charismatic presence, looking into the camera with piercing eyes and a frequent frown, as if constantly on the edge of disagreeing with himself. The look was fitting because what the series did was to make people rethink.


This is what Will Gompertz, BBC Arts Editor, wrote
John Berger's 1972 programme Ways of Seeing changed the way many of us saw.
He argued that the advent of mass media fundamentally altered our perception of art. 
The programme was to become iconic and highly influential but would not, he told me a couple of months ago, be made today.
He challenged convention, the establishment and us. He had the eye of artist, intellect of an academic, and charisma of a born performer.
He was though, above all, a writer and story teller. He enriched our lives with his novels, poetry and criticism.
He showed us how to see, not as individuals, but together.

This is what Andrew Marr wrote for an article in the New Statesman (published 28 November 2016) - Why John Berger is the least theoretical Marxist on Earth (RECOMMENDED)
The story of John Berger is the survival and triumph of a shape-shifter. A painter who turned to writing, he became the single most influential commentator on art of our times. A novelist who rejected mainstream fictional forms, he won the Booker Prize in 1972 and used the award to fund Black Panther revolutionaries. A passionate Marxist, he has remained popular throughout the waning of Marxism. An upper-middle-class Englishman, soldier and Londoner, he turned his back on the fizzing metropolis to live in rural France, and so became an ­authentic internationalist.

This month he turned 90, but he is still possessed of the wolfish mental and phy­sical energy, the bodily charisma, he has ­always enjoyed.
You can pick the publication which suits you best from the ones below.....

UK Obituaries

Berger was the author of art criticism, novels, poetry, screenplays and many less classifiable books. He consistently challenged traditional interpretations of art and society and connections between the two.

Overseas Obituaries

The author of Ways of Seeing had a profound impact on generations of artists, critics, historians, curators, and art lovers.

90th Birthday articles

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