John Berger, RIP

January 3rd, 2017

John Berger, the influential art critic, novelist, and screenwriter passed away yesterday at age 90.

Image via The Guardian

In the late 1940s while teaching drawing, Berger also became an art critic, publishing many essays and reviews in the New Statesman.

Decades later, he hosted “Ways of Seeing” on the BBC, the counterpart to his book of the same title, “an art-school standard on both sides of the Atlantic.

A polarizing public intellectual and lifelong Marxist, “Mr. Berger burrowed into the sexism underpinning the tradition of the nude; the place of high art in an image-saturated modern world; the relationship between art and advertising; and, of particular importance to him as a voice of the British New Left, the way traditional oil painting celebrated wealth and materialism,” according to the New York Times.

His novel, G, won the Booker prize in 1972. Berger split the winnings with the British Black Panthers, as he was “disdainful of Booker McConnell’s historical association with indentured labour in the Caribbean.”

In a recent interview, Berger reflected, “When I look back on my life I think it’s very significant I never went to a university. I refused to go. Lots of people were pushing me and I said, ‘No. I don’t want to’, because those years at university form a whole way of thinking.”

Video: Watch John Berger in “Ways of Seeing”

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