Sense of Sight
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With this provocative and infinitely moving collection of essays, a preeminent critic of our time responds to the profound questions posed by the visual world. For when John Berger writes about Cubism, he writes not only of Braque, Léger, Picasso, and Gris, but of that incredible moment early in this century when the world converged around a marvelouis sense of promise. When he looks at the Modigiliani, he sees a man's infinite love revealed in the elongated lines of the painted figure.
Ranging from the Renaissance to the conflagration of Hiroshima; from the Bosphorus to Manhattan; from the woodcarvers of a French village to Goya, Dürer, and Van Gogh; and from private experiences of love and of loss to the major political upheavals of our time, The Sense of Sight encourages us to see with the same breadth, courage, and moral engagement that its author does.
to celebrate. This evening some will play bowls. For many scepticism is mixed with calculation. If their daughters’ being received into the church offers in one way or another the possibility of their children being better protected, then indeed they are glad that at last it has come to this – their confirmation. Caution fills their souls. 3 There were three youngish Italians behind the bar, all wearing white shirts – no jackets, for it was hot – and black ties. The boss was called
houses are low. You can almost touch their roofs. They have double windows with a space the width of their walls between the panes. In this space in one window there is a pot of geraniums and, behind them, coarse lace curtains. The other window is slightly dusty. To look through the glass, with its transparent nap of dust, at the deep red flowers in the shade and then through the lace, the colour of string tied round parcels, into the brownish darkness of the room beyond is to rediscover
flourished when large areas of the countryside were first being absorbed by the new cities but before the norms of the city were accepted as natural. Drawn caricature exaggerated to the point of absurdity when compared with the supposed ‘even tenor’ of life. Living caricatures imply a life of unprecedented fervour, danger and hope; and to the outsider it is his exclusion from this exaggerated ‘super-life’ which now appears absurd. Graphic caricatures were of social types. Their typology took
the historical timing of the Cubist movement. It was not then essential for a man’s intellectual integrity to make a political choice. Many developments, as they converged to undergo an equivalent qualitative change, appeared to promise a transformed world. The promise was an overall one. ‘All is possible,’ wrote André Salmon, another Cubist poet, ‘everything is realizable everywhere and with everything.’ Imperialism had begun the process of unifying the world. Mass production promised
their new constructions, their liaison with the events which provoked them is shown by way of a simple, almost naïve reference to a pipe stuck in the ‘sitter’s’ mouth, a bunch of grapes, a fruit dish or the title of a daily newspaper. Even in some of the most ‘hermetic’ paintings -for example Braque’s ‘Le Portugais’ – you can find naturalistic allusions to details of the subject’s appearance, such as the buttons on the musician’s jacket, buried intact within the construction. There are only a