About Looking by John Berger Vintage (1992) Paperback
From the disappointing experience of looking at an animal in a zoo (compared to gazing in it’s eyes face to face) to insights on photography and artistry this book is a great jumping off point for many discussions about art. For inspiration, look no further than About Looking, with its vignettes on various artists, from Magritte to Romaine Lorquet, to short reflections on other more mundane things to be seen, like fields, it truly nudges the reader into seeing things from a different perspective. My favorite essay would have to be one on Giacometti’s work before and after his death. Berger claims that when Giacometti was alive, viewing his work was seeing his own process of isolation, his gaze and considerations of the irrelevance of society. After his death however the work no longer represents his way of living but the viewers own, since you know he is dead, you ‘take his place’ while gazing. Berger’s insights on art and looking at it are beautifully written, humorous, and engaging. Each essay is sure to brighten your day and/or deepen your perspective!