Ways Of Seeing insights…

ways of seeing: the book

ways of seeing: the book


screenshot from streaming video

Having done foundation in visual art has helped me a lot in Uni.. Given the work to watch ‘ways of seeing’ by John Berger is quite an interesting task as it involves going back to the history of art and the way we see things is affected by our knowledge and beliefs. I’ve read the book of the same during my foundation year. The book and the video episode had the same content. Starting from the Renaissance time to 20th century.

Between 1500-1900 the oil painting was main medium of visual art, from 1900 onwards the photograph became the main medium of visual art. In parts of the book Berger addresses the way the portrayal of a women’s body in art (painting and photographs) has changed over time from the Renaissance onwards. According to Berger, conventions have established the social presence of a woman as different from that of a man. A man’s presence is dependent on the power that he embodies, while a woman’s presence expresses her own attitude to herself and defines what can and cannot be done to her. A woman’s presence is a manifestation of her gestures, voice, opinions, expressions, clothes, chosen surroundings, and taste. Men look at women, while women watch themselves being looked at.  In other words, the man is a surveyor of the woman and consequently the woman is surveyed, thus turning the woman into an object of vision, a sight. 

Berger then goes on to distinguish between nudity and nakedness. Defining nakedness as being seen as oneself, while nudity is being seen by others and recognized as an object instead of oneself. This is quite interesting to know that, during the European Oil painting era, the nude, the painter is never painted, but what does gets painted is a result of what appeals to him sexually.  Therefore a woman’s body hair and fat dimples is never painted, since it is not sexually appealing to the painter.

Talking about the 20th century, the photos are clicked in such a way that one can discuss the image well. John Berger discusses the concept of publicity, Today the female shopper is targeted as the ideal client desired by an advertiser.  Advertisers find material products like jewelry, clothing, and beauty products are far easier to market to women than they are to men.


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