The legendary art critic – oh, and he also won the Booker Prize for his fiction – John Berger died at his home in Paris on Monday. Berger influenced generations to re-examine the way they look at art, images and photographs, his book Ways of Seeing becoming a seminal masterpiece in this context.
The four-part BBC documentary series with the same name became Berger’s signature treatise for thousands of people as he conveyed the hidden ideological meanings contained within works of art.
The video above, made on the occasion of Berger’s 90th birthday in 2016, is a documentary portrait titled The Art of Looking, which looks back on the artist’s illustrious career and incorporates discussions with him about new ways of looking and seeing after his cataract operation.
Also included are tidbits about his early life, like the fact that Berger did not start writing art criticism until he was 25. It’s a rounded portrait of the man who was also a poet, painter and novelist. There are interviews with his children, visual artist John Christie, cartoonist Selçuk Demiral, photographer Jean Mohr as well as two of his children, film-critic Katya Berger and the painter Yves Berg.
Here are the four episodes of Ways of Seeing.
Below is John Berger reading Twelve Theses of the Dead, a three-page lyrical meditation on death and dying, an addendum to his last novel, From A to X, published in 2008. The beginning to the last section reaffirms Berger’s lifelong commitment to Marxist philosophy: “How do the living live with the dead? Until the dehumanisation of society by capitalism, all the living awaited the experience of the dead.”