Ways of Seeing

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The secret language of visual arts

Hi, welcome to Bookey. Today we’ll unlock Ways of Seeing. Imagine the following situation which we may run into in our lives. You are attending a high-end event and you feel eager to make connections and impress certain important individuals. During the event, someone mentions a popular art exhibition that was recently held. When asked your opinion on it, however, you fail to say anything compelling, and feel extremely embarrassed by your ignorance. Instead, someone else speaks confidently about art and gets the spotlight. Now playing a low-key role, you sit on the sidelines as if you were invisible and mull over the situation in disappointment. You too, want to be able to analyze an artwork. You wish you could effortlessly talk about your opinions with everyone’s eyes fixed upon you; basking in people’s admiration. You feel increasingly disheartened, however, as you believe that it would require years of study in order to increase your level of artistic criticism. In fact, it’s not so difficult to increase your level of artistic criticism. Although it may be hard for an ordinary person to understand a painting from its technical aspect, we can still appreciate an artwork from its historical background, the artist's purpose, and the hidden intentions behind different ways of interpretation. As we unlock Ways of Seeing in this Bookey, you’ll be able to get a preliminary understanding of the hidden languages of visual arts, including oil painting, photography, and advertisements, within 30 minutes. The author of Ways of Seeing was John Berger, an influential English art critic, novelist and painter in the contemporary world. He had extraordinary achievements in various fields of art. He held many solo exhibitions, and also wrote multiple monographs on art and novels. In 1972, the BBC broadcast his documentary series with the same name as the book we are introducing. Moreover, in the same year, his novel G. won the Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. In the field of art criticism, Ways of Seeing used to be an alternative to the mainstream practice. Traditional art critics usually focus on the technical aspects of artworks, such as lines, colors, and composition. This book, however, directs our attention to something else, for instance the artwork's historical background, the artist's purpose, and the hidden intentions behind different ways of interpretation. It tells us the secrets behind images and gives us a whole new perspective to appreciate artworks. Topics in this book include traditional ways of seeing the oil painting, the influence brought by photography to the ways of seeing, the depiction of women from male perspectives in classical oil paintings, and ways of seeing the art of advertising in the modern world. The arguments used in this book have influenced Western ways of seeing visual arts for several generations. In 2011, The Guardian listed Ways of Seeing among the 100 best nonfiction books of all time. Next, let's follow Berger's guide to learn the secret language of visual arts from the following three aspects. Part 1: Ways of seeing in the age of mechanical reproduction. Part 2: Ways of seeing in the age of the traditional oil painting. Part 3: Ways of seeing in the modern age of advertising art.

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