The Wide Span of John Berger’s Career in a New Biography

A Writer of Our Time: The Life and Work of John Berger by Joshua Sperling, published by Verso Books (photo by Elisa Wouk Almino/Hyperallergic)

John Berger is best known for his influential 1972 book and four-part TV series, both titled Ways of Seeing. With straightforward language that avoided cumbersome artspeak, and an infectious curiosity, he explored the ideologies behind images, from Renaissance Art to contemporary advertising. Shortly after his death in 2017 at the age of 90, Hyperallergic editor Elisa Wouk Almino praised “his uncommon ability to dive into the sensory details of an artwork and resurface with a politicized argument that applies far beyond the work itself.” Whether expounding on the history of the nude, portraiture as a conveyor of social status, or systems of desire communicated through ads, Berger brought a strong Marxist sensibility to bear. Throughout his life, he was a staunch supporter of radical and progressive politics, even donating half of his 1972 Booker Prize money to the Black Panther Party.

A new intellectual biography of the writer, A Writer of Our Time: The Life and Work of John Berger, looks at the wide span of Berger’s career, from his early days as a painter in postwar London to his emergence as an art critic and embrace of revolutionary politics. It also covers his vast literary output, including novels, cultural criticism, sociological writings, and cinematic collaborations. In honor of the book’s release, this Saturday, Artbook at Hauser & Wirth will host a book signing and discussion between author Joshua Sperling and Wouk Almino. The event will offer an opportunity to not only learn more about the publication, but meet Hyperallergic’s new Los Angeles editor.

When: Saturday, January 19, 3–5pm
Where: Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles (917 East 3rd Street, Downtown, Los Angeles)

More info at Verso Books.

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