Concept of Beauty in the Ideas of John Berger: Critical Analysis

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Berger touches on the thought that beauty is with in the eye of the beholder, which really does make the attention the centre of the visible world. The invention of the camera has really changed the perception of the world, and has changed not only what we can see, but also how we see it. Berger also talks about how a lot of original paintings are recreated and distributed across the world. This really does mess with the value of a painting. Berger also does touch on the fact that the paintings can be quite easily manipulated, which is one of the main reasons why there is no unfolding of time in paintings, just the one frame. A painting's interpretation is often changed if it is in the middle of music and rhythm, and therefore the meaning of a picture is often changed counting on what you view after it, or beside it.

Because of cameras, and the fact that any piece of work can now be photographed and copied, paintings have most definitely lost something. There is no longer that feeling of impressiveness because you know that it is not the only one of its kind. Of course, there is the original which still holds significant value, but since most valued paintings have either been copied or remade it really does lose some of its sense of worth. Berger goes onto talk about the fact that in original paintings, the loss of worth is frequently replaced by the market value for being an original painting has acquired a new kind of impressiveness. This is not because of what it shows, nor is it because of the meaning of its image, it is simply because of its market value. “The market price depends on the subject being genuine.' This shows that while the invention of the camera and as a result the ability to repeat anything has taken its toll on the value of a painting, something, money, and market value of an original, has somewhat replaced this.

A very good example of a painting that the camera and the potential of recreating the image made very popular is Van Gogh's “starry night”. It is one of the world's most best-known paintings, even though only a select people would have been to the MOMA in New York to see the original. This painting has become so popular that people have even tried recreating it, and adding their own touches to it, by doing things like designing clothes with the painting on it.

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The camera, and as a result the remediation of the painting, has made this painting incredibly popular, almost as much as the original. As a result, the first piece, loses quite a bit of that 'mysteriousness' that Berger was talking about. However, the market price of the painting, because it is very popular, is still incredibly high.

In part 2 of the series, John Berger discusses the concept of female nudity. He begins by making the distinction between the word’s “nudity” and “naked”. “Being naked is just being yourself but being nude in the artistic sense of the word is being without clothes for the purpose of being looked at”. This distinction is used to help create the argument that for a plain body to become a nude body, “It must be completely objectified and exist just for the sheer pleasure of the viewer”. This claim is supported by several examples of paintings, all of which do contain characteristics of an object which is intended just for the viewer. Some characteristics such as the shortage of hair, which does “remove an association with sexual pleasure on the woman's part, the fact that the woman's gaze is almost always directed outward at the viewer even when a male figure is present, and the fact that the women in these paintings are almost always laying down, languid as “They are there to feed an appetite, not have any of their own.” According to Berger.

John Berger talks about a contradiction in European paintings of female nudes between “the painter's, owner’s, and viewer's individualism and the object….the woman, which is treated as abstraction.” Berger strongly believes that these differences in the relationship between men and women does play a very deep role in our culture, and how women do see themselves. Berger opens and closes this episode with a discussion focused on how women do see themselves. One woman describes how “she doesn't see herself as naked”, when she looks in the mirror, but how she “instead sees a nude”. What she means by this is that she is influenced by the world surrounding her. She does not see her true self, but she instead sees a picture of what she wants to be, or things that she should be. It is also mentioned that men do not have this same image of themselves. This really does enforce Berger's belief that inequality between men and women is very much apparent.

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Concept of Beauty in the Ideas of John Berger: Critical Analysis. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 14, 2024, from
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