Berger Questions

September 20, 2006

1. In Berger’s essay, “History” stands for an idolization of the past, where the actual events and people are immortalized by those who continue to study it. It seems that “history” is only a twisted perception of what happened years or centuries before as told from a certain point of view. Within paintings, Berger uses “history” as something that is “mystified” in that it is considered something unreachable for understanding. Because of the inability to imagine history, Berger says that this prevents people from truly seeing a painting because one cannot see the events and surroundings which shaped its creation. As one cannot perceive the “why” and “what” of the painting, then people read far too much into its meaning, causing the painting to be figuratively lost from sight alltogether.

In Hals’ painting, he draws that when critiquing the painting, art historians critique the painting itself rather than taking into account the history surrounding it, instead focusing more on things like color and contrast. In writting about the painting, Berger has attempted to illustrate the gap between the painting as it is and how people experience the painting now in an effort to try and “redescover” the painting. By “situating” us in history, he is attempting to force the reader into experiencing the painting within its own context so that we readers can really experience and truly experience the painting.

2. Berger’s account of the painting could be seen as an attempt to demystify the painting and try to replace it in the historical, political, and societal of the time that it was made in order to try and experience it as it was “meant” to be experienced as. No I don’t think that he is “really” seeing, and I think that he recognizes this. I believe that he realizes that it is very difficult, maybe impossible to truly “see” the painting because one cannot fully perceive the past. I think that Berger is attemping to “really” see it thus, he becomes as close to seeing it as he can. I think that he knows that he has his own bias and perspective on what the painting should be and what he should see- thus, his sight is affected. He knows the history and he knows his bias, thus he believes that he is mostly seeing the painting.

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3 Responses to “Berger Questions”

  1. Sam DiPaola said

    Lexy,
    I agree with your interpretation of Berger’s views of history. I agree with how he tries to “situate” us in history, to truely experience art or a specific painting.

  2. kfitz said

    I find it interesting how you say history is the idolization of the past. Its interesting because most people do use the past to embellish on the present.

  3. Rachel said

    lexy,
    i agree that Berger probably is aware of the fact that he is bias becuase he is trying to make the point that everyone’s biased.

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