John Berger

(1926 / London Borough of Hackney)

Biography of John Berger

John Berger poet

John Peter Berger (born 5 November 1926) is an English art critic, novelist, painter, poet and author. His novel G. won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his essay on art criticism Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to a BBC series, is often used as a university text.

Education

Born in Hackney, London, England, Berger was educated at St Edward's School, an independent school for boys in Oxford. His father, S.J.D. Berger, O.B.E., M.C., had been an infantry officer on the western front during the First World War. Berger served in the British Army from 1944 to 1946; he then enrolled in the Chelsea School of Art and the Central School of Art in London.

Life and career

Berger began his career as a painter and exhibited work at a number of London galleries in the late 1940s. His art has been exhibited at the Wildenstein, Redfern and Leicester galleries in London. Berger has continued to paint throughout his career.

While teaching drawing (from 1948 to 1955), Berger became an art critic, publishing many essays and reviews in the New Statesman. His Marxist humanism and his strongly stated opinions on modern art made him a controversial figure early in his career. He titled an early collection of essays Permanent Red, in part as a statement of political commitment, and later wrote that before the Soviet Union achieved nuclear parity with the United States he had felt constrained not to criticize the former's policies; afterwards his attitude toward the Soviet state became considerably more critical.

After a childless first marriage, Berger has three children: Jacob, a film director; Katya, a writer and film critic; and Yves, an artist.

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