In 1972 writer John Berger and producer Mike Dibb created a four-part television series called ‘Ways of Seeing’, which rapidly became regarded as one of the most influential art programmes ever made. The series (later adapted into a book) criticize traditional Western cultural aesthetics by raising questions about hidden ideologies in visual images.
In the first programme, Berger examines the impact of photography on our appreciation of art from the past.
A large part of seeing depends upon habit and convention
Ways of seeing #2 (1972)
the portrayal of the female nude is an important part of the tradition of European art. Berger examines these paintings and asks whether they celebrate women as they really are or only as men would like them to be.
The nude in European painting convey some conventions in the way women were judged, in how they were seen (in society run by men).
What is a nude? Kenneth Clark: Being naked is being without clothes. The nude is a form of art.
John Berger: To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognized for oneself. A nude has to be seen as an object in order to be nude.
Naked and shame. Shame towards to spectator: that the one who shames them.
Nude an awareness of being seen by the spectator.
Mirror symbol as vanity of woman.
Most female nudes in Western art history have been lined-up by their painters for the pleasure of the male spectator/owner who will assess and judge them as sights. Their nudity is another form of dress.
Passiveness: Nakedness is a sign of submission and not of active sexual love (in western oil paintings). Often looks and bodyposture is directed towards the spectator and is addressing his sexuality and not her sexuality. They are there to feed an appetite not to have one on their own. Being available and waiting for somebody.
Ideal nude as a humanist idealism. Celebrate women or the male voyeur.
Nudity as a garment and a uniform that says: i’m ready now for sexual pleasure.
“My consciousness never really allowed me to think of myself as anything else but Black or a person of African descent. Anyone who has had the opportunity to get to know me never questions my race. They never question me being Black. Never. Regardless of my complexion. But for those who don’t necessarily know me, based on my phenotype and their perception, I’ve had some interesting experiences.”