Episode Three

Below is the third installment of Ways of Seeing:

The third installment of Ways of Seeing deals with themes of possession and ownership. Berger suggest that the oil painting is the most valuable object of today, even though they often depict things which, in reality, are acquirable. Paintings have become treasures, galleries like palaces or holy places of pilgrimage, yet also like banks, as such treasures need to be heavily guarded.

The true value of these paintings, Berger offers, is mysterious. Critics and scholars seem to raise art above life as though it is a religion. But however, in the episode, it is made clear that we should be wary of loving art. In their simplest of forms, paintings are objects which can be bought and owned, each utterly unique of one another.

Berger stated that;

‘European oil painting served a different kind of wealth. It glorified not a static order of things, but the ability to buy, and furnish, and to own,’

Previously, before the habit of oil painting, medieval artists had used gold leaf to valuate their works, however the new art moved the gold to the frames which surrounded them, the art itself exhibiting its own priceless presidence.

The paintings themselves demonstrated wealth, what money could buy. Merchandise became the subject of these images, evidence of the owners wealth. Such as live stock, their pedigree exaggerated to reflect the pedigree of their owner.

Berger commented that;

‘Every portrait is a record, which says, “I once existed and looked like this”

Berger goes on to state;

‘Records the confidence of those, to whom ownership brought confidence.’
This episode summises that oil paint was a medium which celebrated wealth and private possessions, which could now, in the modern day be reflected by publicity. We see something in an advert and want to possess it. In the 21st century, gadgetry could also be compared to oil paintings, they give clear signals to others of our status and worth.’

Berger, J. 2012. Ways of Seeing Episode 3. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yGca39v9CE [Accessed: 10/06/13].


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