Ways Of Seeing John Berger Analysis

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When in an art gallery that displays oil paintings from the Renaissance era, one might by mystified as to the true interpretation of such paintings. The majority of people today are unaware that they do not view oil paintings the way they were traditionally meant to be viewed. As we admire them, do we ever stop to analyze why they were painted in the first place, and for whom they were they painted for? By understanding why oil paintings depict certain things, consequently our view and interpretation of them will alter. Oil paintings were a luxury only the wealthy could partake in, seeking out artists that would be able paint their possessions in the most realistic way. Anthropologist Levi-Strauss comments “… rich Italian merchants looked upon painters as agents, who allowed them to confirm their possession of all that was beautiful and desirable in the world.” (qtd. in. Berger 86). It was the wealthy who ultimately instructed the artist what to paint, usually a possession they desired to be put on canvas. In John Berger’s book Ways of Seeing, he writes “Oil paintings often depict things. Things which in reality are buyable. To have a thing painted and put on a canvas is not …show more content…

There is not a single scene from this mythological story painted; but in an essence what is painted is the story from beginning to end. The women laboring in the foreground is the goddess Athena, on the left disguised as a commoner; and Arachne on the right, with her back turned to the viewer. They are in the middle of a battle surrounded by other women as their aids as they determine which of them the superior spinner is. The stairs separate the additional scene painted in the background portraying the conclusion of this battle. After goddess Athena has defeated Arachne, she is transformed into her true goddess state boasting in her

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