Photograph of English art critic, novelist, and painter John Berger.

John Berger

(1926 - 2017)

While exhibiting paintings at London galleries in the 1940s and ’50s, John Berger contributed art criticism to various publications. About his later decision to give up painting for writing, he said in an interview, “A painter is like a violinist: you have to play every single day, you can’t do it sporadically. For me, there were too many political urgencies to spend my life painting.” Unhappy with the state of his country, he left England in 1962, resettling in the French Alps, and going on to publish his Booker Prize–winning novel, G., and Ways of Seeing.

All Writing

Glamour cannot exist without personal social envy being a common and widespread emotion.

—John Berger, 1972

Every city has a sex and an age which have nothing to do with demography. Rome is feminine. So is Odessa. London is a teenager, an urchin, and in this hasn’t changed since the time of Dickens. Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman.

—John Berger, 1987

The past grows gradually around one, like a placenta for dying.

—John Berger, 1984

Issues Contributed