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Art Exhibition in John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing” Essay


Each person has a right to see and interpret art in a variety of ways depending on personal interests, preferences, and background knowledge. However, it is not forbidden to use some additional help in order to gain various forms of art comprehension and achieve the best results in evaluating a new material.

For example, John Berger’s work, “Ways of Seeing”, introduces one of the main points about how people may see art taking into consideration different circumstances like the ways of how images may be obscured by academics or distorted by the existing social or moral values (Berger 14).

According to Berger, the way people see art is predetermined by what is known about a particular artwork and what people want to believe about the work. In other words, text recognition is a very important issue in regards to art and its impact on human lives.

People want to enjoy art, and what they see in paintings, sculptures, and photography, etc., however, they cannot get rid of the information they may have about the works of art. People are too emotional and undergo certain effects of the surroundings when it is time to enjoy art. Still, they do not want to know anything about art. This is why they try to improve their background knowledge before they meet a certain form of art (Desmond 1).

Unfortunately, not only some moral or social norms may influence how people can understand art because the appearance of new forms of art may also define how people can see art.

For example, the advent of photography at the beginning of the 1800s considerably influenced and changed the role of painting with its practical functions, social duties, and the abilities to give information about the physical appearance of the world. Photography promotion proved that not only people’s styles and tastes could be changed, but also technologies and their impact on media and human imagination could be improved (Adams 25).

The inability to interpret the fear of new improvements and changes properly makes Berger introduce the issue of cultural mystification as a process of explanations of something evident still unclear. This type of mystification helps to realize that camera or any other art devices cannot be regarded as negative or wrong changes only. They should be regarded as good opportunities to see a world from a new perspective.

Of course, the development of art may be characterized by both, positive and negative, outcomes, and the reproduction is defined by Berger as a chance to distort an original piece of art and change people’s understanding of it (Berger 20). Still, at the same time, reproduction of art is a unique possibility for people to learn better different artworks and find the required access to them in case the original works are hard to find.

This is why, if a person wants to start thinking about some art innovation as something unacceptable or unnecessary, it is important to remember that changes cannot be pure negative or positive, and art understanding may be considerably improved with the help of such issues like photography, reproductions, or any other type of cultural mystification.

To prove the correctness of the chosen ideas, it is possible to take The Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci, its reproductions, and photocopies in order to realize how it can be seen and interpreted from a variety of angels.

Works Cited

Adams, Laurie. Art: A Beginner’s Guide. Oxford, England: Oneworld Publications, 2012. Print.

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1990. Print.

Desmond, Kathleen. Ideas about Art. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, May 5). Art Exhibition in John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing”. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/art-exhibition-in-john-bergers-ways-of-seeing/

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"Art Exhibition in John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing”." IvyPanda, 5 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/art-exhibition-in-john-bergers-ways-of-seeing/.

1. IvyPanda. "Art Exhibition in John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing”." May 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/art-exhibition-in-john-bergers-ways-of-seeing/.


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IvyPanda. "Art Exhibition in John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing”." May 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/art-exhibition-in-john-bergers-ways-of-seeing/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Art Exhibition in John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing”." May 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/art-exhibition-in-john-bergers-ways-of-seeing/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Art Exhibition in John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing”'. 5 May.

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