John Berger

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Some people claim that a picture contains a thousand words. The same can be said for the sculptures displayed in the Great Hunger Collection. These sculptures capture every aspect of the brutality and pain these people experienced. The details alone are highly impressive. Out of all the sculptures, however, one stood out above the rest. This was the Boston Irish Famine Memorial (8) by Robert Shure. This sculpture can be interpreted in many ways, including ways mentioned by John Berger in the book Ways of Reading. Famine is a powerful subject, and this sculpture successfully expressed just how deeply this family has been affected by it. The scene created by Robert Shure is a perfect representation of the pain and emotional distress that people struck by famine convey. The empty basket exemplifies the message that they are starving, and the pain in their faces contributes to this strong message. There are also other details revealed in how they are positioned and in the shadows, which intensify their thin physiques. In the book Ways of Seeing by John Berger, many methods about how to look at works of art are brought up and explained. He gives his insight specifically on how to interpret paintings. He also speaks about photographs and how they incorporate the photographer’s way of seeing. Another important point he makes is how all individuals perceive a work of art in a different way. “Yet, although every image embodies a way of seeing, our perception or appreciation of an image depends also upon our own way of seeing” (99). Everyone gets a unique reaction when viewing a painting or sculpture. The interpretations I listed above, others may disagree with or view differently. This does not make them wrong; instead it just shows how the minds of individuals all work differently and how one person can see an artist’s decision completely different than how another may. Not only do people viewing art interpret works of art differently, so do the artists who create...
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