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A major new work from the world’s leading writer on art
Landscapes, the companion volume to John Berger’s highly acclaimed Portraits, explores what art tells us about ourselves.
“Berger’s work is an invitation to reimagine; to see in different ways,” writes Tom Overton in the introduction to this volume. As a master storyteller and thinker John Berger challenges readers to rethink their every assumption about the role of creativity in our lives.
In this brilliant collection of diverse pieces—essays, short stories, poems, translations—which spans a lifetime’s engagement with art, John Berger reveals how he came to his own unique way of seeing. He pays homage to the writers and thinkers who infuenced him, such as Walter Benjamin, Rosa Luxemburg and Bertolt Brecht. His expansive perspective takes in artistic movements and individual artists—from the Renaissance to the present—while never neglecting the social and political context of their creation.
Berger pushes at the limits of art writing, demonstrating beautifully how his artist’s eye makes him a storyteller in these essays, rather than a critic. With “landscape” as an animating, liberating metaphor rather than a rigid defnition, this collection surveys the aesthetic landscapes that have informed, challenged and nourished John Berger’s understanding of the world. Landscapes—alongside Portraits—completes a tour through the history of art that will be an intellectual benchmark for many years to come.
About the Author
Storyteller, novelist, essayist, screenwriter, dramatist and critic, John Berger is one of the most internationally influential writers of the last fifty years. His many books include Ways of Seeing, the fiction trilogy Into Their Labours, Here Is Where We Meet, the Booker Prize winning novel G, Hold Everything Dear, the Man Booker–long-listed From A to X and A Seventh Man.
Tom Overton catalogued John Berger’s archive at the British Library. He has curated exhibitions at King’s Cultural Institute, Somerset House and the Whitechapel Gallery, and his writing has been published by the LRB blog, New Statesman, Apollo, White Review, Various Small Fires, Tate, the British Council and others.
“Essential … reminds us that all good writing comes only from good (that is, patient, attentive, loving) looking.”
—Andrew Marr, New Statesman
“Berger’s prose manifests an ethics of the committed gaze, a great sympathy for the human animal in pain and a great anger for the political conditions that extend that pain unnecessarily. As he wrote recently: ‘What has prompted me to write over the years is the hunch that something needs to be told and that if I don’t try to tell it, it risks not being told.’ The humbleness of the word ‘hunch’ in that statement tells you all you need to know.”
—John Douglas Millar, Frieze
“Essential reading not just for our political moment but outside it. He was a monument, a world of his own; at the same time, his thinking and his art—which are the same thing—address themselves at once to the past, the present, and the future.”
“Life has more light and colour after an encounter with Berger.”
“Berger is a masterful observer, a trait that lends his writing a profound element of artistry: these essays read like sketched studies of an as-yet-painted masterwork … these worldly essays are timeless, inspiring works of critical observation.”
Praise for John Berger:
“John Berger teaches us how to think, how to feel how to stare at things until we see what we thought wasn’t there. But above all, he teaches us how to love in the face of adversity. He is a master.”
—Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things
“I admire and love John Berger’s books … Not since Lawrence has there been a writer who offers such attentiveness to the sensual world with responsiveness to the imperatives of conscience. He is a wonderful artist and thinker.”
“One of the most influential intellectuals of our time.”
—Sean O’Hagan, Observer
“Berger is a writer one demands to know more about … an intriguing and powerful mind and talent.”
—New York Times
“Best Books of 2018”