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Ways of Seeing: An Introduction to the Many Issues of Art - Essay Example

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An essay "Ways of Seeing: An Introduction to the Many Issues of Art" outlines that we not only live in a capitalistic society but one in which virtually all its inhabitants are consumers. Consumers purchase commodities. Berger wants to raise the consciousness of viewers of these paintings…
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Ways of Seeing: An Introduction to the Many Issues of Art

On the pseudo-academic side, Berger isn't making artistic observations as much as social commentary. He gives not-so-subtle hints that have basically a communist and talks about how European Art serves the purposes of the elite (from feudalism to capitalism) to oppress "the majority." There is even an entire chapter talking about art oppressing women. People often look down upon the objectification of women in advertising, and how we regularly degrade women for the pleasure of a few, treating women as objects or bodies only. But then we look back on the nudes of the Renaissance or other periods and think, how beautifully made! This is truly art, after all, and not the same moral level as an underwear ad or porn. Berger destroys these myths. Yes, Rembrandt's nudes are much more artistically done than anything in advertising, but Berger shows a convincing link between the treatment of women in the art of that time and part of this time. If one expands the definition of art in the modern period, the similarities are extraordinary. In Ways of Seeing Berger carefully traces how art has been used as a method of control, in general, and towards women in particular. How those beautiful nudes we now see in museums were usually in wealthy men's private collections where only they could observe them- much as Playboy is today. How even the medium (oil, watercolor, film) changes the way information is forced upon us and control is asserted. It is illuminating to see an ad that obviously objectifies women, and then to see the exact same picture next to it, but of a famous oil painting that the ad was based on. Ways of seeing have some interesting ideas but without thoughtful coherent expansion. It had some insights, but overall, I found myself quite disappointed by it. ... Read More
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