John Berger and History

Topics: Art critic, Creativity, Modernism Pages: 4 (1549 words) Published: May 9, 2002
In his first essay of Ways of Seeing, John Berger claims that all power, authority, and meaning that was once held by an original work of art has been lost through the mass reproduction of these works that has occurred in recent years. He writes of an entirely bogus religiosity (116-117) that surrounds these art objects and that the meaning of the original work no longer lies in what it uniquely says but in what it uniquely is (117). He claims that because of reproduction, the art of the past no longer exists as it once did (127). Obviously, something created hundreds of years ago is not the same as it once was, but the distribution of art and music to the general public has had a positive effect on society rather than a negative one. Works of art have even more meaning than they had when first created through the interpretations offered them by generations of critics and artists. Fresh new sources have been given the ability to offer their insight and abilities into art, creating entire new genres of art, music, theatre, and the like. It has allowed for a truer search for knowledge than was ever possible before. And ultimately, the search to find the true meaning of art and of the ideas of the artists forms a true sense of religiosity, which gives passion and meaning to the lives of groups stretching far beyond the cultural elite. An example that Berger uses to illustrate his points is that of a filmmaker who uses images in film. Berger states that Awhen a painting is put to use, its meaning is either modified or totally changed (120) and when a painting is reproduced by a film camera it inevitably becomes material for the film-maker's argument (121). He concludes from this that only the original painting holds integrity while the image shown on film is an expression of the film-maker's argument. However, this idea furthers the meaning of the painting by adding connotations to the one the artist intended. When an artist creates a painting, he or she hopes for...
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