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237 of 240 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Berger's book is as relevant today as it was in the 1970s.
How can a paperback book that was first published in 1972 by the British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin Books still be held in such high esteem by its readers. Could this inexpensive book really have survived the ravages of time? The answer to this later question is evidently yes. Despite its age this book remains on most Cultural and Media studies courses lists...
Published on 26 Jun 2000 by J. C. Rice

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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking...
I recently had to read this as the basis for an essay, but was pleasantly surprised. It is an interesting snippet questioning our view of art and if it has changed throughout history. I found a few of the assumptions a little irritating, such as that Reubens would not have been aware of the device of depicting the human body in an anatomically incorrect pose in order to...
Published on 20 Feb 2008 by Dark Clarissa


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237 of 240 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Berger's book is as relevant today as it was in the 1970s., 26 Jun 2000
By 
J. C. Rice (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
How can a paperback book that was first published in 1972 by the British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin Books still be held in such high esteem by its readers. Could this inexpensive book really have survived the ravages of time? The answer to this later question is evidently yes. Despite its age this book remains on most Cultural and Media studies courses lists of recommended reading and is even compulsory on some.
The book itself is comprised of six independent, and yet linked, essays. The first textual essay opens with the words 'Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak'. This essay sets the scene for all of the following essays. It identifies that we live in a world of visual imagery. Three of the essays are collections of images. Many of these have been stripped of their titles or any explanation as to who or what they represent therefore allowing the spectator to interpret them themselves. Essay number 3 looks at the nude but more importantly how the social presence of a woman is different from that of a man. Essay number 5 looks at art though mainly explores the differences between looking at or seeing a painting and the desire to possess it. It draws on the work of the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss to illustrate this point. It then slowly teaches the reader how to deconstruct an image and goes into great depth to explain how every small detail is an integral part of the final overall reading. The final essay is about publicity. Which is as relevant now as it has ever been. Even in this technologically changing world publicity still uses the past to sell the future.
The essays do not need to be read in any particular order, which makes it a very useful dip-in book and its size makes it easy to carry it around either in a bag or perhaps a large pocket. It is well written and is therefore a delight to read.
As strange as this may seem, a quote published in the book from an article written by Dziga Vertov, a soviet film director, makes a timely eulogy for the book itself.
'My way leads towards the creation of a fresh perception of the world. Thus I explain in a new way the world unknown to you'.
Although Vertov was talking about a film camera this quote could so easily describe the intention of the book itself. So the answer to why this book continues to be held in such high esteem is simple. As long as we have eyes to see, visual imagery will remain an important signifier of our culture.
In order to understand our culture we need to be able to read these images. This book helps the reader achieve this. So this little timeless paperback book will remain in pride of place amongst the multitude of hard cover books on my office shelf and no doubt the shelves of many homes and University libraries for many years to come. I would recommend it to anyone.
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88 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating read, 9 April 2005
I went to school in the UK, taking the full range of O and A-levels to go to University.

Looking back, the most memorable book that I read in school was this one.

It lived up to its title and gave me another way of seeing.

So much of school is about preparing people to lead dull 9 to 5 lives in offices, hospitals etc. as if they were working in some 19th century factory.

This book opened the door to creativity and independent thought, something that none of the other textbooks ever did.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If it's outdated now, it's because it opened a new era, 16 Sep 2008
By 
lexo1941 (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
'Ways of Seeing' is a book which some readers may find a bit puzzling. The ads reproduced in its pages look naive to us, in their unsophisticated emphasis on luxury and glamour, and Berger's commentary on advertising may seem a bit simple, but if so it's because he was one of the first and best critics to compare the effects and uses of advertising and fine art. The main difference between him and most contemporary commentators is that Berger had an independent perspective that they lack; his analysis has far more steel and indignation than the work of someone like Peter York, who comments on ads from the insider's perspective of "Is it effective or not?" Berger refuses to be seduced into talking about ads on their own terms. While the specific tactics used in advertising may be different now from what they were when this book was originally published, the basic strategy is still the same as it will ever be: to sell us not a product but a lifestyle.

Anyone who has travelled in a less-well-off country that has a functioning advertising industry (Greece, for instance) will have noticed that billboard ads there tend to be like early 70s ads in richer countries: they promote a dream of luxury, wealth and sophistication. Ads in the UK and Ireland are aimed at people who already think of themselves as reasonably wealthy and sophisticated, and so UK and Irish ads tend to promote an idea of the consumer as being rootsy, down-to-earth, unpretentious, sensible - all the things that we secretly fear we aren't. The tactic is different, but the strategy (to play on the consumer's hopes and fears about what kind of person they are) is the same.

Berger's work is hardly full of undigested chunks of Marxist doctrine, unlike the far more impenetrable and far less useful work of (e.g.) the Art & Language group. If you come across his work when you're young or ignorant enough, he is one of the most liberating writers around. He teaches you not to agree with him, but how to be critical in the first place; he provokes you into wondering if and how he could be right, which is a gift from a writer to a reader.

This is a relatively entry-level Berger. The early novels are not really very good, except for the first one, "A Painter of our Time". The Booker-winning "G" is a masterpiece, and the more recent fiction has been equally excellent but different in tone and method. The book-length non-fiction, such as "A Fortunate Man", "A Seventh Man", "Another Way of Telling", is all superb. He is one of the best English writers and as he passes 80, his work shows no sign of declining in quality or intensity.

It should be stated that this is only the accompanying book of a TV series which, shamefully, isn't available on DVD. "Ways of Seeing" the programme is still pretty mind-blowing, right from the cheeky opening sequence where Berger appears to cut up an actual Botticelli. The whole show is, or used to be, available in bits on YouTube. I would rather sit through a TV show by Berger than the whole of Kenneth Clark's contemporary and far more expensive "Civilisation", which has been released on DVD.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking..., 20 Feb 2008
I recently had to read this as the basis for an essay, but was pleasantly surprised. It is an interesting snippet questioning our view of art and if it has changed throughout history. I found a few of the assumptions a little irritating, such as that Reubens would not have been aware of the device of depicting the human body in an anatomically incorrect pose in order to give the impression of movement. (Particularly as this is something that was well known among artists for hundreds of years and had been used by Leonardo da Vinci for example).

However, if you are looking for a thought provoking, unusual look at how images have been used throughout history, give it a go. Its not a long book and some of the chapters are purely visual to allow the viewer to come to their own conclusions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ways of seeing, 6 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Ways of Seeing (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I bought it to read about photography and was taken by surprise as it is exactly what it says on a tin: book on ways of seeing. the photography is part of it- the way image is created, through its interpretation to the theory of art of seeing it in context. very inspiring little book, eyes opening and what a great way to show the communication between different forms of art and life around us
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful at 18x11cm. Waste of money., 1 May 2014
By 
C. Lord (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ways of Seeing (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This Penguin Classic reprint is terrible. Tiny bold type, almost unreadable, bad b/w photo reproduction on cheap paper, really disappointing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disastrous re-issue., 27 April 2014
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This review is from: Ways of Seeing (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This was a wonderful book, produced beautifully in its original form, and was a magnificent yet to help my A level students come to grips with what it meant to adopt a critical position.

However, this latest edition is a huge disappointment. Most of the illustrations are so poorly printed in my copycats to ruin the point. That paper quality and font size make the reading other text an endurance test and the production singularly betrays the genius o the original text.

Get an original second hand. This latest version is a disgrace.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars poor quality, 25 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Ways of Seeing (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
the type is smudged in places and the pictures included are not clearly defined, the book looks as though minaturised and detail lost as a consequence
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ways of seeing by John Berger, 16 April 2011
This classic from the 70's has stood the test of time.If you are interested in art,how to critique it,what influences how we we see it, then this is the book for you.It isn't a huge tomb of a book that you have to plough through,just a small paperback ,with chapters that you can delve into as and when.It is thought provoking and a useful tool for those who are studying art, from the beginner and including themore academic art lovers.
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46 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ways of seeing - you won't if you don't read this, 3 July 2000
initially bought as a course book for a media course; this book soon turned into my seminal read of 2000. packed with insight into not only early european art and its somewhat seedy motives, but an extremely interesting affiliation is made between this and modern advertising. J Berger draws out the longest straw fom the pile and with it goes a long way to explaining womens percieved or expected place in society. These are all carefully placed together with the stongest of links, which would make a 'big breakfast presenter cry'. intellagent and more than relevant!
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Ways of Seeing (Penguin Modern Classics)
Ways of Seeing (Penguin Modern Classics) by John Berger (Paperback - 25 Sep 2008)
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