Portraits: John Berger on Artists

Portraits: John Berger on Artists

John Berger

Language: English

Pages: 367


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A major new book from one of the world's leading writers and art critics

One of the world’s most celebrated art writers, John Berger takes us through centuries of art in this distinctive history that will enlighten and inspire. In Portraits, Berger connects art and history in revolutionary ways, from the prehistoric paintings of the Chauvet caves to Randa Mdah’s work about contemporary Palestine.

In his penetrating and singular prose, Berger presents entirely new ways of thinking about art history, and 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.

A beautifully illustrated walk through many centuries of visual culture from one of the contemporary world's most incisive critical voices.

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can be passionately, radically political and also concerned with the precise details of artistic production and everyday life, that the beautiful and the revolutionary belong together, that you can chart your own course and ignore the herd, that you can make words on the page sing and liberate minds that way. Like so many writers, I owe him boundless gratitude and regard news of a new book as encouragement that the most important things are still possible. The gifts are huge, and here’s another

rummaged under his bench and produced a block of apple wood – a lovely piece of wood, old and brown. And so from this I carved a rose with all its petals and several leaves. I carved it so finely that when you shook it, the petals moved. And the old man was right. As soon as the rush job was over, I had to leave that workshop. When I went to others, they looked at me sceptically. I was too young, too small, and my English was very approximate. But then I would take the rose out of my pocket, and

a present moment more present than those we normally live. Comparable with moments of making love, of facing imminent danger, of taking an irrevocable decision, of dancing a tango. It’s not in the arena of the eternal that our words of mourning resonate, but it could be that they are in some small gallery of that arena. On the now deserted hill I tried to recall Darwish’s voice. He had the calm voice of a beekeeper: A box of stone where the living and dead move in the dry clay like bees

physically imposing and has considerable authority. You can’t take liberties with him. With the late decrepit Rembrandt it would have been easy. This one knows how power works and he has exercised his own. He has turned the trade of being a painter into a profession – like that of a general or an ambassador or a banker. He’s the first to do this. And he has the confidence that goes with it. And also a painterly confidence. In his late works he is the first European to display – rather than hide

banished, along with the daylight, are distance and solitude – and both these are feared by the underworld. Those who live precariously and are habitually crowded together develop a phobia about open spaces which transforms their frustrating lack of space and privacy into something reassuring. He shared those fears. The Calling of St Matthew depicts five men sitting round their usual table, telling stories, gossiping, boasting of what one day they will do, counting money. The room is dimly lit.

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